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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

Disney Releases First Indian-Made Animation Feature

23 Oct

MUMBAI : Disney makes a major foray into the Indian film market Friday with the release of its first full-length animation feature using home-grown Bollywood talent.

“Roadside Romeo”, a joint venture between Walt Disney Pictures and leading Indian studio Yash Raj Films, has been two years in the making and tells the story of pampered pet dog Romeo after he is abandoned on the streets of Mumbai.

Characters in the 90-minute film, which producers hope will be a hit over the coming Diwali festive period, are voiced by popular Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Jaaved Jaaferi.

It also features trademark Bollywood song and dance routines as Romeo encounters fellow strays and falls in love.

Disney, responsible for hits like “WALL-E”, “Ratatouille”, “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo” through its Pixar Animations Studios arm, first began operations in India in July 2004.

It has since secured a foothold in the cable television sector, mainly through its children’s outlets the Disney Channel, Hungama TV and Jetix.

Walt Disney Company India’s managing director Mahesh Samat said the expansion into Indian-made animation films was a logical step.

“(Yash Raj Films) are experts in the Bollywood idioms and the local style of story-telling and we are happy to work with them in producing our first local full-length animation feature,” he said in emailed comments to AFP.

“While we understand that this is a relatively nascent market for animation films, we are confident that there’s a large market for decent family entertainment here.

“Animation films work equally well as live action films the world over and there is no reason why they would not work here as well.”

“Roadside Romeo” was inspired by Mumbai’s legions of stray dogs and written by the Bollywood actor Jugal Hansraj, who is making his debut as a director. The animation itself is entirely the work of the Mumbai-based Tata Elxsi outfit.

“I have always loved animation films since my childhood. I have grown up on them and to work with Disney was a fantastic experience,” said Hansraj, citing Disney’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” as among his favourites.

Disney’s tie-up comes at a time when other major Hollywood studios are taking an increasing interest in India’s 2.1-billion-dollar-a-year film industry.

Sony Pictures made the first move, co-producing the love story “Saawariya” (Beloved) with acclaimed producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali in November 2007.

Warner Brothers is scheduled to release “Chandni Chowk to China”, starring prominent actor Akshay Kumar, in January next year.

Walt Disney India’s Samat told AFP he could not divulge how much Disney was spending in India but said they would fork out “whatever is required to execute these projects to world-class standards”.

“We have currently four live action films in the pipeline, which we are producing ourselves. “Zokkomon” is a film which will star Darsheel Safari and the second is “19th Step”, starring Kamal Hassan,” he said.

“We have also started working on our second animation script with Yash Raj Films.”

- AFP/il

Channel News Asia

Sambutan Hari Jadi Kareena Tanpa Saif

28 Sep


KAREENA

SEPERTI biasa, setiap pasangan yang bakal menyambut ulang tahun kelahirannya akan merayakannya bersama orang yang tersayang. Namun kali ini berbeza pula halnya dengan pasangan Bollywood terkenal Saif Ali Khan kerana dia bakal tidak di samping kekasihnya sempena hari jadi ke-27 Kareena Kapoor. Ini kerana kesibukan masa menyebabkan mereka tidak mungkin akan menyambutnya.

Saif Ali Khan berada di Delhi bagi menjalani penggambaran filem terbarunya. Manakala Kareena Kapoor pula di wilayah lain di India iaitu di Ladakh bagi filemnya iaitu 3 Idiots.

Khabarnya Kareena semasa menjalani penggambaran filem tersebut tidak akan membuat sebarang perayaan bagi meraikan ulang tahunnya. Tetapi seperti selebriti lain yang terpaksa menjalani penggambaran ketika ulang tahun kelahiran mereka, kumpulan produksi filem akan meraikan saat tersebut bersama-sama Kareena.

Utusan Malaysia

Abhishek Terselamat Daripada Letupan

21 Sep

BEBERAPA bintang Bollywood yang berada di New Delhi dikejutkan dengan huru-hara yang berlaku di kota itu baru-baru ini. Kebetulan ketika peristiwa itu berlaku, Abhishek Bachchan berada hanya beberapa kilo meter dari tempat letupan yang terjadi di Connaught Place.

Dalam pada itu, Saif Ali Khan dan Kareena Kapoor juga terpaksa membatalkan rancangan mereka bersiar-siar ekoran letupan di Delhi pada hari Sabtu lalu.

Abhishek tiba di Delhi untuk menghadiri beberapa majlis termasuk promosi filem Drona, penggambaran filem Dilli 6 dan iklan terbarunya. Abhishek khabarnya pergi ke tempat berlangsungnya majlis di Connaught Place hingga larut malam ketika letupan berlaku di Barakhamba Road. Nasib menyebelahi suami Aishwarya Rai, kerana letupan berlaku selepas beberapa minit dia melalui kawasan tersebut.

Utusan Malaysia

Size Me Up!

7 Sep

Size me up!
 

A model glides down the ramp at a swishy fashion event. Tall, elegant and almost a size 0. The women in the audience sigh with envy. It would take them months of sweat and strain, and maybe even starving, to get into the designer’s creations. So why do designers create clothes only for the slim and svelte and not for the normal women with curves?

This debate has it pros and cons but before we argue it out, a look at fashion through the last century will give an idea on how social norms and behaviour has influenced fashion. The early 1900 was an era of long gowns with enhanced bosoms and bottoms. The 1920s were rebellious times, when hemlines soared above the ankles and bosoms were flattened out. Then came the 1950s with Dior’s New Look of clinched waistlines and the hourglass figures. Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren were the sexy glamorous sirens of the 1960s and 1970s who gave the voluptuous body the thumbs up. In the 1980s designer Azzedine Alaia known as the King of Cling brought lingerie out into the open and the advent of lycra turned fashion into tight figure-hugging creations that needed the perfectly toned Amazon body. Into the 1990s and the New Millennium gymming, health clubs and spas became ideal hot spots and everyone from 6 to 60 years wanted a figure like Angelina Jolie, Kareena Kapoor or Bipasha Basu.

STYLE ASPIRATION

So can one blame fashion designers if their collections cater at times to the fit and fabulous only? Designers Lina Tipnis and Narendra Kumar Ahmed create for all sizes but admit, “There is an aspirational value connected to fashion. Women want to look slim all the time. Mass brands create larger sizes but for high fashion sizes 34-36 work better on the ramp and for photographs.” But Lina offers sizes 40-45 and has a 30per cent sale in big sizes with size 36 being the bestseller. Narendra Kumar is creating workwear for the Westside stores which will have waist sizes from 30-34 inches.

Rocky S who works with Bollywood beauties adds, “As a designer I like to create for all sizes. Experimenting with cuts, styles, colours and fabrics is a designer’s forte and it is not always that a particular style suits everyone. Keeping in mind that size is a limitation for some, I ensure that my collections have certain styles that most people can carry off well. I feel a designer’s core success lies in his ability to be able to dress and style all kinds of people.”

The market share in mass fashion for the normal size women is roughly estimated at 70 per cent while for slim women it is 30 per cent but growing rapidly. On the high fashion designer front the ratio is 65 per cent for young fashion and 35 per cent for bigger sizes. On the other side, brands like Barcode, a ready-to-wear label catering to the working women, has a 40 per cent sale for normal sizes and 60 per cent for slim women.

Meena Pophale of Barcode reveals it is easier to make clothes for slim women. “It’s slightly tougher to design for a full-bodied woman as the hips, stomach and bust have to be fitted well.”

SUPER SIZE SEGMENT

But Nisha Somaia of Revolutions, the only brand that pioneered the super size concept in India, makes thought-provoking comments. “Around the world most designers are gay and in love with little boys, so keeping that in mind they reduce women to androgynous bosomless models on the ramp and force girls to be skinny. Many girls around the world and even some in India are turning anorexic and swear by the ‘two fingers’ theory which leads to bulimia. Today the media is focusing on obesity; but obesity has not increased, only healthy eating has decreased. Women need to love themselves as they are. There is more emphasis given to the hundreds of diets but why don’t these work all the time?” she says.

Revolutions which started in 2001 has designs for waist sizes from 28-46 inches and has 12 stores in India and one in Dubai and keeps abreast with the latest fashion trends for its collections.

Nisha also informs that Charlotte Coyle, UK’s super size supermodel who is a rage in Europe, and Fat Fashion shows on TV are very popular. “Our emphasis should be on good health and not be caught up in external appearances or social opinions affecting us. Personally, I feel Kareena looked better in Ashoka than in Tashan. Now her head looks too big for her body. We are chasing an unrealistic dream which could affect us mentally and physically,” warns Nisha.

Lina however feels, “I don’t know how gay designers know what women want. They may be preferred by women because women love their personality and the pampering they probably get and these designers are trying to create one more category of clothing which women will feel is really original. But there are many female designers who dress women like women should be dressed.”

HEALTH CONCERNS

So are smaller sizes at times encouraging women to turn anorexic? “As much as I would like to disagree, it’s true that a certain section of the youth believes that anorexic is beautiful. Following such a trend gives them a chance to ape their role models and wear the kind of attire they do. Size 0 has become an uncalled for trend in itself. Although there is a strong celeb influence, I personally feel that curves accentuate a woman’s body beautifully and size 0 is unhealthy and unattractive. Preferentially a well toned, fit body would be able to carry off almost everything confidently,’ states Rocky.

Lina however queries. “What is size 0? I don’t think there is anything like that. It’s something women in the front rows love to talk about. It’s like OCD (obsessive compulsive disease). At times women who are size 36 want to be 34 or 4 to 2.”

Narendra feels, “The fitness boom is big right now so as women get slimmer they want to show their well-toned bodies. It is the evolution of the woman’s body from the days of the curvaceous Meena Kumari and Madhubala to Kareena Kapoor and Eesha Deol. Women in show business have definitely become icons whom the normal women want to ape.”

“Kareena may photograph better but this fad is probably amongst page 3 socialists,” argues Meena Pophale.

FITNESS FREAKS

The argument of what came first – the fitness boom or slim fashion is similar to the egg and chicken story. The mushrooming of health clubs, gyms, spas, exercise DVDs could be termed as the cause for better figures and a conscious attempt to stay slim. Designers however feel that both these trends are responsible for each other; but couldn’t comment on which came first. At times a skinny dress may have encouraged a woman to be more conscious of her weight. “But women are intelligent, many may want to get trim and slim for health reasons and not just to wear a dress,” hopes Narendra.

So let’s not blame the designers in the country for what is hanging on the racks of stores if you can’t get into the dress you liked. Soon it will be fashion for the space age era when clothes will be baggy, sporty and just right for cyber travel; in which case figure-hugging tiny minis will be a thing of the past. But remember bodies will have to be fit and fabulous to stand the rigours of outer space.

Myths mirror reality
 

Once upon a time, there was Cinderella. Her stepmother and stepsisters were wicked and ill-treated her. One day the prince announced a grand ball. The stepsisters preened and went for it, leaving poor little Cinderella in front of the cinders of the chimney. With a wave of her wand, the fairy godmother transformed Cinderella’s rags into a pretty dress with dainty glass slippers. But she was not to stay on beyond midnight, else the magic would wear off.

Those of us who grew up on fairy tales are familiar with how Cinderella on forgetting this condition ran from the prince’s eager arms, dropping one of her slippers behind. The prince decided he’d only marry the girl whose foot fit the lost slipper. And his hunt led him to Cinderella. Needless to say they all lived happily ever after, because not only did the prince whisk her away to his palace and marry her but Cinderella forgave her erring family and took them into the fold.

In China, legend has it that there is a torrentially powerful waterfall known as Dragon Gate. At the foot of the waterfall there gather many a carp (an edible freshwater fish) with the hope that they will be able to climb the waterfall and be transformed into dragons. Treacherous is the climb with most of the aspirants being swept away, a few fall prey to carnivorous birds and the remaining are caught in the net of a fisherman. Out of the tens of thousands who attempt, it is an extremely rare carp which succeeds in scaling the waterfall against such overwhelming odds, and becomes a dragon.

What does the Cinderella story and this legend about the carp have in common? Do fairy tales, myths and legends have a relevance to human consciousness or are they entertaining fabrications of a wild imagination? Are they a skillful means employed by the mind of a visionary/prophet/poet to touch and fire the consciousness of fellow humans in order to grant them a tantalising view of the inevitable destiny and destination of what it means to be truly human?

Rishi is a Sanskrit word with Dri as its root. The syllable dri means to see and a Rishi is one with an insight which surpasses the physical eye and an understanding which penetrates the many layers of human existence – the material body, the passion and desires, the medley of thoughts – to go to a depth in the consciousness where we are connected to all that there is in the universe. There is a place in one’s consciousness, deep within, where every event and memory of the universe is recorded and stored, which has been witness to every holocaust, war, glory and dissolution. In other words, each of us, by silencing the mind through meditation can access from within our psyche certain universal patterns of Hunger, Flight/fright, Abundance and Alchemy, which are our collective heritage.

These patterns or energy imprints in the deep consciousness lead to certain instinctual behaviour that anybody from any part of the world, regardless of culture and belief, would enact. For instance, a person would grab food with the same ferocity if he had starved for 48 hours regardless of which country or social class he belonged to. The radiance of integral wealth of money, power and thoughts would reflect on the face regardless of details of name, gender and language.

Carl Jung labels these moulds of energy in the collective consciousness of the human race as archetypes, and says that they have an existence, form and personality of their own, independent of the surface mind. As we still the wavering mind and cultivate equipoise in daily life, we experience some of the archetypes – like that of prosperity (the mythological counterpart being Lakshmi).

The ambition to refine and purify oneself, to move from our limitations to be powerful, to ride on the crest of the wave called fate is the archetypal agni of the fire sacrifice or yajna. The warrior who goes into a bare-handed combat with the evil within is called The Hero archetype by Jungians.

The Vedic/Puranic seer would have found the hero’s energy a flash of Durga’s sword that vanquished the mahishasura of arrogance and selfishness within. Svabhavo vijayatee iti shauryam is a Sanskrit maxim that translates as – The true hero is one who conquers his own inner nature.

As we discover more of the darkness within and allow a tug of war between the positive and negative, we participate in the Vedic myth of samudra manthan (churning of the ocean). The story has the devas approach Vishnu (the divine which preserves the universe) for recovering Sridevi (the energy of Prosperity and true wealth).

When Durvasa rishi’s curse caused Sri to be banished, vegetation dried up, animals and beings perished. Vishnu’s counsel to the devas: “Take the help of the asuras (the dark forces of violence and hatred within us) to churn the primordial consciousness (ocean).” Interestingly, to reveal Sri from the depths of the ocean, the help of asuras was indispensable, thus accentuating the importance of the centrifugal force produced by the friction of contraries.

Perfection at any level of the being – physical beauty, intellectual brilliance, good fortune, or the richness of human bonds – everything wears off and gets its light from the sun of the atman within. What arises from the unfathomable ocean of primordial consciousness is Sri, the pattern of the energy of integral wealth and with her emerge the fulfillment of desires, pleasures of the aesthetic, sensual and spiritual variety. A myth, according to Joseph Campbell, is a dream of the universe and a dream a private myth of an individual. Be it Cinderella, the carp who got transformed into a dragon or Sri who arose in all her splendour from the ocean, each character represents something within you and me. Something which is vital, is living and awaits its birth.

Each protagonist is relevant and the expression of each is a milestone towards the individual’s complete and perfect expression. The transformation of Cinderella from the doormat she was to the beautiful princess that she became, and the carp magically changing his genus to manifest as a dragon is the quantum leap from being a human to a siddha or realised person.

‘Life is following the course of nature’
 

My belief in God comes from the holy teachings of Islam. I believe in Allah and follow the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). My faith in the Almighty has always been strong and I also believe that the biggest reality of life is death. I feel every being on earth is God’s own creation.

Why does the sun set, and the moon come up to add a glow to the darkness? It’s not only science. It’s the design of life by Allah. My connection with God dates back to the time when I was two years and six months old. I almost died as a kid. I drowned in a water tub and nobody noticed.

Eventually, when I was pulled out, I wasn’t breathing. But miraculously, I survived. I still remember it very clearly. Since that day, I believe it was he who saved me. He knew it wasn’t my time to go. I had to grow up to be the person I am today.

I believe the Almighty has carved a life map for all of us, as he had for me. Till today, I feel that I’m God’s special kid. He has never given me anything the easy way. I have always strived hard to get what I want. And I trust him. I feel that God puts his loved ones through tests. And we all have to do well in that test. And when you pass through those tests, he gives you rewards through blessings.

Life for me is following the course of nature which has been designed by God. Every morning I wake up thanking Allah for this beautiful life that I’ve been given and go to bed doing the same.

God is the only one who is always watching our every deed. Allah always keeps us in his caring lap. And it’s not just humans, but God governs the entire cycle of life. Just like parents take care of their kids, God takes care of us as children of his own creation. Today, I’m in a very happy position. After all the rough patches which life brought my way, I’m a very positive person and love and enjoy each second of my life, all by the grace of God.

I’m grateful to Allah for everything that I have today. Islam says that there is no form of God. For me, God is the greatest force. I feel that everyone believes in God differently and this is my faith in him. For me he is the creator. I believe in His existence.

Make your life worth living
 

Responsibility is not an obligation, responsibility is not a duty, it is a capacity to respond. A man who wants to know what life is has to be responsive. That is missing. Centuries of conditioning have made you more like machines. You have lost your manhood, you have bargained for security. You are secure and comfortable and everything has been planned by others. And they have put everything on the map, they have measured everything. This is all absolutely foolish because life cannot be measured, it is immeasurable. And no map is possible because life is in constant flux.

Life is not a railway track

And the ways of life are very zig-zag. The ways of life are not like the tracks of a railway train. No, it does not run on tracks. And that is the beauty of it, the glory of it, the poetry of it, the music of it and that it is always a surprise.

If you are seeking for security, certainty, your eyes will become closed. And you will be less and less surprised and you will lose the capacity to wonder. Once you lose the capacity to wonder, you have lost religion. Religion is the opening of your wondering heart. Religion is a receptivity for the mysterious that surrounds us.

Don’t try to fix life

Don’t seek security; don’t seek advice on how to live your life. People come to me and they say, “Osho, tell us how we should live our life.” You are not interested in knowing what life is, you are more interested in making a fixed pattern. You are more interested in killing life than living it. You want a discipline to be imposed on you.

Life is precious, live it

The first thing is: don’t ask anybody how you should live your life. Life is so precious. Live it. I am not saying that you will not make mistakes, you will. Remember only one thing, don’t make the same mistake again and again. If you can find a new mistake every day, make it. But don’t repeat mistakes. A man who can find new mistakes to make will be growing continuously and that is the only way to learn.

Look at the moon directly

Seeking truth in scriptures, seeking truth in philosophies, is looking at the reflection. If you ask somebody else how you should live your life, you are asking for misguidance, because that man can only talk about his own life. And never, never, are two lives the same. The real moon is always there in the sky waiting for you. It is your moon, it is your sky, look directly.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

I’m not the roses and chocolates kinda guy
 

Who says love goes out of the window when you are married for a few years and reality strikes? It’s not true at all. Of course, priorities change when you are together for a long time, it’s about the family, the kids and your job too. But its important not to lose focus from the fact that you are with your partner because you love your woman and want to spend the rest of your life with her.

Mehr has completed me and my life so beautifully that I sometimes look at my life in amazement and wonder, ‘How lucky could I have been?’ It helps that Mehr is also one of my closest friends and we understand each other perfectly. After all these years together, we don’t have to even say anything to each other, but we know what the other person is thinking. There is no overt display of affection, where you see couples stuck to each other like Siamese twins.

But I believe real chemistry is when two people are sitting in different corners of the room not even looking at each, but you can feel that vibe between them. Mehr and I have that, and even if you don’t know that we are together, you will sense that chemistry between us.

She is much more calmer, wiser than I am and I’d say much more accomplished too. She’s one of the first supermodels our country has ever seen. For her to give up the limelight and take care of my family, out of choice, is a tremendous effort for me. At the same time I keep telling her, there is so much more she is capable of and can still do with her life. It was a revelation to work with her when we made I See You.

She was the best producer I could have asked for my film, and she was extremely professional. They say couples shouldn’t mix their professional and personal lives, that’s rubbish. Mehr and I got closer during the making of our film and I got to see another side to her.

Of course, we have our own set of fights and arguments, but the best part about it is that we take it as an understanding process. Every argument tells you that much more about your partner. And it’s healthy for the couple too. But we believe in resolving our issues and not let them fester. There is nothing that can’t be resolved with good communication.

And then there’s something very romantic about making up. In fact, every once in a while we need to make a romantic gesture here and there to tell your partner that you love her. I am not the roses and chocolates kind of a guy, but I like to cook at home sometimes for her, or just take a few days off and spend quality alone time with her. Whenever I am on an outdoor, I speak to her few times a day.

And then of course, there are the family holidays, with my daughters, which are a must for us. I am often asked, if there is temptation when it comes to working in a glamorous industry and so many beautiful actresses.

I agree, the actresses we work with are beautiful, but Mehr is the best thing to have happened to me, and I feel I’m so lucky because of that. When you feel that way, you count your blessings and not mess things up.

What not to wear
 

To show skin, or not to show skin? Now that is the question! Should the gents button down their shirts to show off their sprouting chest hair?

Should women prance around in tiny miniskirts? With loads of cleavage? Or do you prefer them covered up? What to wear (or rather what not to wear) is one tough conundrum. Emails fill my inbox requesting information on what to wear for first dates, what not to wear to the races, how much skin is appropriate, and what an outfit says about the type of person you’re dating (white shoes, pink shirts and a peek-a-boo navel – apparently all big-time turn-offs).

Yet in an age where celebrities are going pole dancing in hot shorts and platforms for exercise; where Paris Hilton-esque outfits are ubiquitous, and where less is often viewed of as best, I wonder when it comes to dress sense, what is most appealing to the opposite sex?

When the bestselling book Why Men Marry Bitches (Simon & Schuster) came across my desk the other day, I expected to be flabbergasted by what I was about to read. Girls were required to be bitches in order to snag a man?

Pah! Not according to any of the men I’ve dated. But alas, the book actually made perfect sense when it came to the chapter on dressing up (with no bitchiness in sight). “Men see how you dress,” writes author Sherry Argov, “and then make assumptions about your relationship potential.” So in other words, should we watch how we frock up? Apparently so. As Sherry notes, “Once he reduces you to one dimension, he’ll keep you there.”

Yet it works the other way around too. The dress, the shoes and the stockings (especially the stockings), can all effectively hook them in. In fact I’ve heard many a case where a man has confessed that it was love at first dress. “I fell in love with her knockout red skirt”, “Oooh, she looked so hot in that tight black dress”, or “Did you see those fishnet stockings? Grrr.”

But the question that is often asked is this: what’s more appealing? Skin or no skin?

A man named Doug explained: “It makes a woman more attractive if she’s showing less skin. It makes you want to find out what’s underneath. A guy doesn’t want to get to bed and think, ‘No big deal. I’ve already seen this.’ You want her birthday suit to be a surprise. That’s half the excitement.”

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

The Merry go round
 
By Ayush Maheshwari

Last week I was in New York City. Four of my closest friends flew in from different parts of the US for the weekend. It was a blast I must say. Nice late summer weather, a couple of Broadway shows, brisk walks in central park and a fantastic Sushi dinner on the Upper East Side, it was great.

Five single friends together making the best of what life has to offer. We made sure that we got into Manhattan by 4 pm on Friday evening. Once we checked into our midtown hotel we quickly got all dressed up to go to one of the most happening happy (at a gay lounge) hours in town. Wall Street investment bankers, hot lawyers, artsy people, models and models to be, regular men from the block, tourists, dreamers and more. The happy hour had a potpourri of men sipping martinis.

Every time the five of us get together we take a wow that we are together to spend time with each other and surely not looking for any sort of alliance with other men. Well the strength of the promise surely starts to falter with a couple of drinks in the system. What is interesting is that no matter where you go in the world it’s pretty much the same scene at a gay bar. Wandering eyes, a lot of un needed attitude, a subdued insecurity in the air and living life for the moment feel.

Suddenly I started talking to a guy named Dan. I am always quick to survey the contestants. Dan looked decent and intelligent. With my usual confidence I approached Dan. Dan is from Miami and was on a business trip to New York. My imagination quickly saw myself on South Beach sipping Mai Tais with Dan on a lazy summer afternoon (trust me being single for a while makes your mind really imaginative). Dan was courteous to me and said that he is flattered and appreciates the attention. However I am not his type but he doesn’t mind being friends. (this is what I call a graceful rejection).

Well suddenly I felt like Cinderella after the clock strikes twelve. He proceeded to say that he thinks my friend John is hot.

However, John was busy checking another guy out. I quickly excused myself from Dan and went up to John to inform him of his new admirer. John gave one look to Dan and was crystal clear that Dan was not his type.

Paul is the name of the guy John was checking out and Paul suddenly surprises us by making a ‘nasty’ announcement letting us know that he has a boyfriend. Oh well, by now my friend Deepak finds Dan cute. All this while Deepak was talking to this guy Jeff but suddenly feels that Jeff is too short and nerdy for him (Dan is much taller). However Dan extends his graceful rejection to Deepak as well.

The point I am trying to make is that even though everybody is looking for something, but more often than not nobody seems to want to give a chance to that someone who likes them. Is dating like a merry go round these days? Does it have to be? Can we or can we not look beyond the exterior? Should we? I cannot help but wonder at what point in our lives do we get off this thrilling ride we are on? Does that mean we compromise?

I am not sure about that but here is what I do know – at some point in life we got to say ‘this is it’.

You can email your experiences to ayush@bigindian.in

Smoke Alaram
 
By Raghava KK and Netra Srikanth

Want a really good recipe for becoming a total social pariah in most of today’s world? I’ve got just the thing for you: Bad breath, yellow teeth, smelly hair and clothes, not to mention a hacking cough, countless health problems and the power to kill harmless innocents. And how, you may ask, can one achieve this? Well it’s easy, really. Just take up smoking. That’s right, follow the same trend that seems to have swept our teenagers off their feet.

Restaurants, bars, and clubs in most parts of the world have banned smoking indoors so that non-smoking diners are not subjected to the horrible smell or to the danger. It’s rather disturbing to notice that while smoking is on the wane in the developed world, thanks to a sudden realisation of its grossness and proper education about the health threats it poses, it still seems to be the key way for Indian teenagers to fit in and feel “cool”. It’s quite a mind-bender for the two of us, who both always vowed that we’d never date a smoker. How could we dream of kissing a cigarette mouth?

Here is our rant. As non-smokers, we find it very difficult to go out for a meal in this city. Wherever we sit, indoors or outdoors, at a lone table or in the middle of the crowd, that second-hand smoke somehow finds its way into our nostrils. And, unlike abroad, where smokers will immediately put out their cigarettes if they see a pregnant woman or a baby, our Bangalorean smokers keep puffing away with total disregard for those around them.

So we started asking around, and were surprised to learn that the chief motivation for starting to smoke was to be part of a group culture, to be one of the crowd. It’s just an extra addition to wearing the right clothes, sporting the right hairstyle, and speaking the right way. Just another way to subjugate oneself to the horde of clones we so recently observed at a lounge bar. And we always thought it was cool to be different.

But as easy as it is to blame people for their conformist stupidity, we can’t forget the power of the media. Our world seems to revolve around doing what we see pictured on the TV and in our image-obsessed culture, people are lining up to get plastic surgery that will make them look like their favourite star, so it’s no wonder that they’re all wearing the same brands too. What’s next? It seems we’re just a few steps away from the age of the robot.

Designer’s studio
 

This shoot was for my Autumn-Winter 2008-09 collection. Contours in the collection are a study in body lines and form. The art of Ren
 Lalique and Pablo Picasso as subconscious inspiration, creates lines that are baroque, intense and relentlessly elegant. Draped and constructed jerseys lent a new world grandeur and sophistication to the line. Engineered pintucks melt into shaped pleats to create a decadence that is nascent and unplacable.

I wanted a similar mood for the shoot, minimal but lively. Technically, it was an interesting experiment to light the background and still have the model and design detail come in focus without creating an obvious halo.

Tinu was the perfect choice for the shoot. Her body language, skin colour and attitude were all reflective of the design process and philosophy.

The photographer’s ability to capture what was going on in the designer’s head, the simplicity of the environment and the subtle flamboyance of the clothes came together cohesively in the shoot.

It is hard to say where the clothes end and the background begins in the images. The whole object seems to melt into one form and this visual statement makes this shoot my favourite so far.

Unplugged
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

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

iPhone, the latest rage for the status conscious gizmo aficionados, is based on the touch screen technology which is not really a new technology. Touch screen technology is quite old in fact and has been in existence in many forms during the technological evolution of the TV and mobile.

Among the earliest gadgets to have internalised this technology were the computer screens that could respond to and depict the images written and drawn on these screens with the help of the light pens. Of course the usage and hence the popularity was limited to art directors/engineers and mainly the CAD CAM family. The most successful of the consumer gadgets of that time was the PDA with the touch-sensitive screens and the impressive looking styluses that wrote/drew/or just punch telephone numbers on the dial pad.

The next step was the tablet laptop that had foldable screens which opened out to present a mini blackboard to write on. But the most successful usage of this technology is to be found in portable gadgets.

In the last issue, we talked about the growing demand for portability in audio video products, all of which necessitate touch-screen technology.

Simply put, size is paramount when it comes to portable gadgets. Be it the portable PDAs or handhelds or even web connected mobile phones, the key requirement is to reduce size to make portability possible. By incorporating touch screens, gadgets do away with the need for the keyboards which take up a lot of space and make portability a reality.

Some of the smart new devices that incorporate the touch-screen technology include the WiFi enabled portable phones and handhelds, the Prada phone, the iPod and of course the iPhone.

Blu-ray Superior

The on-going war between Sony’s Blu-ray hi-definition DVD format and the rival HD-DVD format from Toshiba may well be in its closing phase. Both boast a host of performance pluses, and both formats use blue lasers to store and retrieve much larger amounts of data than conventional DVD which makes it possible to store an entire hi-definition movie in just one disc.

However, like in any war, only one side can win and in this case it looks like the Sony Blu-ray may finally prevail.

While both the majors have announced that significant price reductions are in the offing, it has been established that the Blu-ray discs can store 25 gigabytes on each side of the disc, while HD-DVD discs can only store about 15 gigabytes on each side. The difference of 10 gigabytes per side and a massive 20 gigabytes per disc seems to have decided the issue in favour of Sony. As if to confirm this understanding, come market reports that Blu-ray discs have been outselling HD-DVD discs by two to one. Whoever loses, technology and the consumer wins.

And that’s the way it should be.Readers are invited to email their queries/suggestions/comments to sadhwanis@vsnl.com

Matrimony on the move
 

Are you finding it difficult to find the perfect match? Are you tired of logging onto matrimonial sites everyday, and need a medium that can give you access to these sites anytime any day? Don’t worry, here is some good news. Those of you who are busy posting your profiles on matrimonial portals on the Internet, can now do the same with your mobile phones, as mobile service providers and matrimonial websites have joined hands to provide customers with what according to them is “mobile matchmaking”.

This concept of “matrimony on the move” will enable mobile service users to post and view profiles of other members without logging onto the Internet. Mobile users would also be able to browse through profiles, express interest in members, send personalised messages to prospective matches a lot more simply through their mobile phones. With more than 300 million cellphone users in India (the numbers drops down to 11 million when it comes to having access to the Internet), market analysts are seeing this venture as mutually beneficial for both the mobile service provider industry as well as online matrimonial portals.

“There is hardly any doubt that this is a very innovative concept. The cost of the calls and SMSes (which are a bit high) will add to the profit for the companies. Moreover, matrimonial sites will also get publicity through this venture, and would be able to provide services both online and offline,” says Ronvijoy Gohain, a telecom market analyst.

While mobile service providers and matrimonial portals are considering this initiative as “a very important service to add value to customers’ lives”, many are not satisfied with the quality of service this venture is offering. While some are complaining about the dearth of proper statistics and lack of images in the service, others are cribbing about the high cost of calls.

Says Ashish Khetriwal, a stock broker, “The call charges are quite high for a prepaid user. Calls are for Rs 6 per minute and SMSes are Rs 3 per minute, and by the time you finish browsing, you will end up spending all the balance on your cellphone. I think spending Rs 30 per hour in a cyber cafe is a better option.”

Technology seems to have brought serious issues like finding a prospective match to one’s fingertips. Marriage counsellors and social scientists are of the opinion that technology is making a sacramental issue like marriage over-commercialised.

“Now that one can find a prospective match through cellphones, I would say they have made marriage a product. Yes, we can say the effectiveness of the process is losing its significance,” opines Dr Kamal Khurana, a marriage counsellor.

However, according to social scientist Dr Beena Thomas, there needs to be a balance between both technology and tradition. She says, “In today’s hi-tech world, nothing is possible without technology, but there should be an amicable combination of everything. There is no harm finding the perfect match through mobiles or any medium for that matter, but one should remember it is not something like fast-food. Marriage is a life-long commitment that involves not only the parents, but also the society one lives in.”

Whatever people may say, this first-of-its-kind venture is sure to lure those who are mostly engrossed in hectic work schedules, and have no time to go online scouting for prospective matches. Simply switch on your mobile phone and find your perfect match.

‘I’ve always been ambitious’
 

Just two years ago, Priyanka Chopra was riding high. She had a string of successful films including Krrish and Don, in which she was paired with two superstars – Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan.

The media, especially the film glossies, had projected her as the next No.1. But then things changed. She had a few disastrous releases – starting from Salaam-e-Ishq last year to her boyfriend Harman Baweja’s Love Story 2050 and God Tussi Great Ho this year.

“It was never in my head that I was the next No.1,” quips Priyanka. “It’s you people in the media who put such tags on us. It is not like it was my burning desire to be No.1″

Having said that, Priyanka goes on to admit that she is pretty ambitious in her own way. “I have always been ambitious, but my ambitions don’t necessarily have to match up to people’s expectations of me,” she says. “I am very content with what I have at the moment, and it may not be in terms of rankings or how much money I am making but the kind of work I am doing, I am thoroughly satisfied with that.”

Is that a dig at the highest paid ladies in B’wood such as Kareena and Katrina? “No, not at all,” she denies. “I am just talking about myself here. Don’t get me into any further controversies please.”

Priyanka seems to have resolved to tread her own path and even negotiate her way out of past troubles. She is working with Karan Johar in Dostana though the director had been cut up with her for quite some time.

“Well, I am really happy to be working with Karan,” she smiles. “He has the best production team. There may have been a misunderstanding in the past, but today we hang out on the sets and laugh throughout the day.”

But has she sorted out her differences with Salman Khan like she did with Karan Johar? “Things are perfectly normal,” she says.

And what about the reported catfight with Kangana on the sets of Fashion? “Yeah, I sharpened my claws and went at her,” she gestures. “I find such stories really funny. It’s like people expect us to have a problem and so we must have it.”

Talking of camaraderie on the sets, how easy or difficult was it to work with her boyfriend Harman Baweja? “It was easy and difficult, for the same reason,” she says.

“Unlike any other newcomer, Harman has thoroughly learned his craft. So it was easy to work with him. But I could not have on my way in the sets either since Harman was all pro and seasoned.”

And does she have huge expectations of him? “Oh huge,” she says. “But he won’t find it difficult to make it, as he is a phenomenal actor, a great dancer, and a level headed guy. And being good looking also helps.”

But she becomes circumspect when more questions on Harman pop out. “Why do we need to put a tag on relationships?” she asks. “When I started in the film industry as a newcomer, all my fellow actors were special for me. Similarly, I am happy that I am Harman’s first co-star.” Priyanka is now looking forward to Drona with Abhishek Bachchan and Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion.

For all you know, she may be crowned Queen Bee again by the media in a matter of months.

Sanjay plans a dream home for Manyata
 

Back in the city Sanjay Dutt is on a mission. He is looking for a property where he can build a bungalow for his ladylove Manyata. The couple currently lives in Dutt’s family home, but the grapevine has it that since the Dutt sisters and Manyata don’t really get along, Sanjay is trying to keep them out of each other’s space.
He has asked all his close friends in the industry to look for plots in Bandra, where he currently lives, for his bungalow. And no, a bungalow up for sale wont do, because Manyata wants to build a dream abode to her own liking and do it up her own way. Now after screening through scripts for Sanjay, organising his date diary, designing his clothes et al, looks like Manyata is taking over the architect’s job too.

Deepika says ‘no’ to harman
 

Deepika Padukone is riding high at the moment, working with the best of banners and heroes in the industry. And she wouldn’t want to spoil her stakes working with a debutante, who is yet to succeed, would she? So, Harman Baweja is ruled out from the list of co-stars she’d be working with in the near future.

The only glitch is that when Love Story 2050 was up for release and there was a buzz about Harman, Deepika had already agreed to do a film with him. But now when the maker went back to her to get the dates, Deepika flatly refused. In fact, she is said to have developed amnesia regarding the project in question and was asking the director if she’d ever agreed to do the film in the first place.

Totally zapped the hapless director is scouting for his female lead and might eventually settle for Jiah Khan, who has no qualms about working with Harman. Equations in this industry change every Friday, one hit can make you the most popular person in the industry, while one flop reduces you to a loser.

Next match on centre court is H’wood Vs B’wood
 
By Vikram Bhatt

The talented filmmaker offers an exclusive ringside view of the Bollywood industryῠ through his column.

A very famous director once said that stories don’t change, only the villains in the stories change. Truer words were never uttered. Look closely and you will see that new villains make new stories. The shark makes Jaws, the dinosaur makes Jurassic Park, the Nazis make Schindler’s List, Gabbar makes Sholay and Shakal makes Shaan.

All stories change with the circumstances that the villain heaps on you but what is strange is that while villains in movies have been constantly changing, there have been villains to the films in general.

Through all times the movies have had to fight a new villain every few years. In my life I remember the coming of colour television and people suddenly deciding to be at home and then, to make matters worse, came the video. Video almost killed the industry when people stopped coming to the theatres. Then came the DVDs and people preferred the pleasure of their plush homes to the dilapidated theatres and so the theatres had to change themselves and they became the super cool multiplexes that lured the audiences out of the homes and into the movie halls. A new audience came into being.

Finally cinema breathed a sigh of relief! The multiplex experience is now the best experience but there is another enemy that lurks for the Hindi film industry. The enemy is quiet now, stealthy creeping ever so slowly behind the Hindi film and the Hindi film is not waking up to the reality of the situation yet.

This piece of mine is a prediction and a warning but the warning first. What is slowly creeping behind us is the foreign film and more essentially the Hollywood film. You might laugh and think that I am being ridiculous, you might think that the Hollywood film was always here but pause as I take you through the inner workings of my prophecy.

With the coming of the multiplexes came an elite audience of the urban India, the multiplexes brought in more screens and more shows and so the Hollywood biggies crashed into our theatres and there is an audience for it. You might have Tashan playing in one screen but Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the crystal skull plays in the other so our action better be as good or perhaps better if that is possible than their films. One screen might have Dhoom 3 but beware of the other screen that will show Hancock 2 or the latest Bond flick. In every genre except for the Indian song and dance the Hollywood film is going to compete with us.

With the growing Indian buying power the west will see us as a huge market. They will flood our markets and the audience will pay for the ultimate experience and they are only loyal to their experience.

So on this day I wish to make a prediction and that is that Hollywood films will creep up and beat us at our own game if we are not careful. Every week one or two American films have begun to release here. This week more shows were given to Angelina Jolie’s Wanted than to Mukhbiir.

I am happy about one thing though and that is that when the competition gets fierce you have no choice but to better your best and so this will be a great time for cinema audiences. Get ready for the mother of all contests. Hollywood versus Bollywood is the next match on the centre court.

Explaining England
 

THE ANGLO FILES:
A Field Guide to the British
By Sarah Lyall,
W.W. Norton & Company,
$24.95, pp 289

Foreigners are a funny lot. Italians communicate using extravagant gestures, Greeks are untrustworthy, Russians doleful and soulful, the Chinese inscrutable. And as for Englishmen! They are sexually confused, they were “terrorised” by feminism, their dental hygiene is appalling. In England hotels are freezing, judges deliver verdicts wearing “moth-eaten” wigs, journalists are foul-mouthed drunken louts, while male members of Parliament are so undone by the existence of women (never mind women M.P.’s) that some “snickered when the issue of cervical cancer came up during a debate on cancer funding”.

It is possible that one or two did, as Sarah Lyall recounts in her book The Anglo Files (the anecdote has no source), though it is equally likely that the rest would have disapproved of the puerile antics. Throughout her frequently amusing account of living in England as a reporter for the New York Times, Lyall takes refuge in roomy generalisations that are hard to refute while at the same time being, at best, half true.

“Is it any wonder,” she asks after a discussion of the abuse suffered by some pupils at elite public (i.e., private) schools, “that Englishmen – particularly British men of a certain class – are so mixed up about sex?” There is a kernel of truth in it somewhere, but first we need to know whom we are talking about.

The Anglo Files is unclear about its subject of study. Is it about the English, as the title has it, or “the British,” as claimed in the subtitle? Someone who has lived in the country since the mid-1990s surely knows that the words are not synonymous, and that to proceed as if they are is asking for trouble.

In his 1945 essay Notes on Nationalism, George Orwell wrote that “Welsh, Irish and Scottish nationalism have points of difference but are alike in their anti-English orientation.” A sentence beginning, “Englishmen – particularly British men of a certain class…” has stumbled into a cross-border dispute before the reader has had time to decide if it’s true or not.

The urge to play up the exotic aspect of everyday activities has proved the bane of many travel books, and it causes Lyall’s judgement to falter. Her idea that cricket is “as important to Britain’s view of itself as baseball is to America’s” is inflated, even if you refrain from pointing out that in Scotland, where I come from, it is not popular at all. (Orwell called it “not in reality a very popular game in England,” which is true if you behold the nation at large and not just people “of a certain class.”)

For Lyall the sport exposes class division, anti-Americanism, evidence of English self-deprecation – another national trait – and even hankerings for empire. All this is piled on thick, of course, to provide a colourful backdrop to the adventures of an innocent abroad. To a British reader, however, the most eccentric feature of Lyall’s book is her use of the word colonial in reference to herself. This would seem a peculiar chip on the shoulder at any time, even if it wasn’t written at the end of a period during which a British prime minister was regularly denigrated as “Bush’s poodle.”

On the other hand, there were many moments while reading The Anglo Files when I felt initially defensive about my adopted country (let’s agree that Lyall’s intended subject is England), only to realise that I had been expressing similar opinions for years. Her observations on subjects like youthful binge drinking, the quality of service in shops and the food at sandwich bars – “Sometimes I’d walk out of the office to try to scrounge up some lunch, and find nothing that seemed remotely edible” – are dismayingly accurate, just as her funny horror story about a stay in a hotel in the Midlands has a familiar feel. It involved no heating in the room, no taxis when she tried to leave and no trains at the station when she managed to persuade a driver to take her there. Welcome to England, where only the immigrants want to work. (The generalising habit is catching.)

The Anglo Files unfailingly comes alive in the vignettes involving Lyall’s English husband. She is married to the writer and former editor in chief at Faber & Faber, Robert McCrum, who is described as being “like something out of ‘Brideshead Revisited’,” who speaks in a way she can barely understand, while exuding a “charismatic arrogance.” He also has “the native constitution of a mushroom,” habitually shaving in the dark, and striding out into a storm without raincoat or umbrella.

He is capable of relishing a soccer match that ends with no score, and seems the right recipient for a gift of a cartoon from the New Yorker showing a man on a couch saying to his therapist, “Look, call it denial if you like, but I think what goes on in my personal life is none of my own damn business.” Here Lyall is on recognisable territory – not because England is a nation of McCrums, but because whenever she scrutinises her husband (with charming affection each time) she is forced to forsake the general for the particular.

“You can’t really pin down the British character,” she admits – nor, for that matter, the Italian, Russian, Chinese or American character, no matter how much fun you might have in the attempt.

Why should one imitate others?
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

Many readers have been writing to me, asking certain things they have been curious to know about the publishing business in India, and also about books in general – and where we are headed towards. As I had said earlier, readers’ mails are what I really look forward to and cherish every time my column appears in this paper.

I try to answer some of their questions and, ah yes, I really like the effort they take to write to me. So here they go:

The number of books especially novels that are published in India is skyrocketing, and how. The rub is that most of them aren’t quite good and would never have passed through editors a decade ago. So what has changed in the publishing industry?

“Aren’t very good” is an understatement; most of the books published here are not even worth the stationery they are written upon.

Have the criteria for getting books published changed over the last one decade?

Without doubt. These days every scum you can imagine sells; mediocrity is the catchword. Also, thanks to lack of serious reading, the mindset of the urban youth is not programmed to read anything heavy; a reason why Paulo Coelho or Arindam Chaudhary sell well. Since there is a clientele, mediocre writers churn out stuff to cater to that segment. And publishers are not complaining as at the end of the day they do not want empty coffers.

But is it not a passing phase?

For bad of course, the change is happening. In the last one decade numerous national and international publishing houses have set up shop here and since there is an acute lack of good writing, and since these publishers want to tap the local market, they have to publish and promote run-of-the mill work, which is in abundance.

Is the profile of the author and the target audience more important than the story?

Yes. Sometime back, I read about an invitation by a publishing house which said, only men and women who are good-looking need to submit their manuscripts. Also, if you are a celebrity or someone who walks the ramp or is a starlet or is the daughter of son of a celebrity chances are that not only do you get published but you are on Page 3; and, yes, sell voluminously too.

And quality? What is that?Has language taken a backseat, by becoming more simple and easy to understand? Are we catering to the SMS and email-addicted public?

Language has not become simple and easy, but it has deteriorated to the nadir that it is a tease to whatever intelligence we are left with. You can blame so many things: fast life, gadgets, television, nuclear families, lack of enthusiasm to appreciate quality literature.

What are the main criteria these days that publishing houses apply when choosing manuscripts?

Saleability. Cookery, self-help, children’s colouring books, beauty and fitness guides, these are money-spinners. And the no-nos are quality books penned by I. Allan Sealy or Mukul Kesavan.

Any new writer who has shown promise of becoming India’s next Salman Rushdie?

Rushdie? Why should anyone try to imitate him? Leave him alone. Develop your own style. To answer this query, there are many who are promising, but, then, who is interested? Sad it may sound, but that is, guys, the truth.

Tailpiece

Talking about Salman Rushdie, here is what one of my friends had to say, “This ‘genius’ has not published anything readable since The Moor’s Last Sigh. What he has been painstakingly churning ever since is either verbal vomit or constipated prose. The way things are going he may not need fatwas from the Iranians, but some good lover of literature might do the honours.” Well, I hope this would not happen, but what Rushdie can do is to take a break and write something other than his nubile wives, divorces and libel issues.

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

‘Ghalib is my eternal special’
 

I read books for knowledge and I believe that by reading books one can understand life better. Reading helps a person in many different ways. It’s like travelling. When a person goes to different places and meets different people, he becomes aware of things around him. One knows more about humanity and every other aspect of nature. While reading, one experiences aspects of other people’s life and their thoughts.

In my younger days, I used to read a lot. But these days it happens rarely. Though I take a look at every other book that comes out, I read only once or twice in a month.

I like reading fiction. These days I rarely get time to read an entire novel at one go. Since poetry takes less time, I try to get hold of a book by a new poet both in Hindi and Urdu. One of my favourite new Hindi poets is Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh. Ghalib and Firaq Gorakhpuri are among my eternal specials.

Besides Hindi and Urdu, I like reading Latin American and American poems as well. When I was young I had a craze for all the poems of Dylan Marlais Thomas, T.S. Elliot, W.H. Auden. I’ve a recorded version of all the poems I like. Whenever I feel like going through them once again, I listen to them.

I like many novels, so considering one as my favourite is tough. But one novel that I read almost every year is The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow. I read it quite often because in every phase of my life, it has given me a new meaning. It’s a book that though has a very private story, is written in a public era. The book depicts two stories – how the political scenario affects the life of a brother and sister and the life of orphans. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Opera extraordinaire
 
By Christine Pemberton

Last summer we were staying with a friend in the south of France in her little cottage surrounded by lavender fields, and overlooking vineyards. Over lunch one day, she said, “How would you like to go to the opera tomorrow?” Opera? In a tiny French village? How could that be possible?

Mais oui, c’est possible.

Cut to the pretty, hill-top village of Lacoste in the Lub
ron, in south-east France, a short drive away from where we were staying. Lacoste village is almost too pretty to be true, one of the picture-postcard variety. The oldest building dates back to the 9th century, there is a Roman bridge, there are mountains on the horizon, and everywhere you look, there are vineyards, cherry trees and poppies.

Lacoste, however, does have a dark side. The village is famous, or rather infamous, for its best-known resident, the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), the man who scandalised 18th century Paris society with his behaviour, and gave the words “sadism” and “sadist” to the world.

In 1771, the Marquis de Sade fled from Paris, to escape the many scandals created by his erotic writing and his outlandish behaviour. He came to Lacoste, seeking refuge in the 11th century ch•teau, which belonged to his grandfather.

Following a series of incidents involving, amongst other things, an orgy with local women, the Marquis finally fled the country. He was later captured and imprisoned. His castle was partially destroyed in an uprising in 1779, and was later looted and plundered by locals.

As if all the heady mix of scandalous past and picturesque village architecture were not enough, for a few weeks every summer, some of the world’s finest opera and theatre companies beat a path to Lacoste, to be part of the village’s art festival.

The festival is the brainchild of 85-year-old French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who is now, without doubt, the second most famous resident of the village.

In the early 1990s, Pierre Cardin bought the ruined chateau, and set about renovating it. He spent lavishly on the hill-top chateau, restoring it and founding L’Espace Cardin there, establishing it as his business office.

Having also bought the old, disused village quarry, Pierre Cardin converted it into an open-air auditorium and then set about attracting world-class artists and performers.

This festival, inaugurated in 1994, runs concurrently with the larger festival in nearby Avignon, making that little corner of France a summer mecca for opera and music lovers.

Pierre Cardin has also bought many cottages in the tiny village, which is slowly leading to controversy, since locals feel priced out of the housing market, but none of that simmering village drama was in evidence when we went to see a performance of Verdi’s “La Traviata”.

The evening was picture perfect. Warm evening sunshine, as only Europe in summer can do.

People milled around with glasses of chilled white wine, and, as the sun slowly began to set, the orchestra began tuning up. The red velvet curtains parted, and the opera began.

The quarry makes a brilliant open-air theatre. Great slabs of rock form the stage, and the seating rises up, not always in neat, even rows, since the quarried stone has been left as much intact as possible. The natural feel all adds to the charm of the evening.

All too soon, the evening was over. The “bravos” were shouted and the encores were sung.

We wended our way afterwards through the pretty village, under a lingering navy blue sky, listening to the babble of languages around us. Lacoste may only have 400 permanent residents, but that night, it felt like the most charmed, cosmopolitan place in the world.

Getting there

By Air: The main international airport, Roissy – Charles de Gaulle is your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France (AF), the national company, for most intercontinental flights. Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to Beauvais airport situated about 80 km northwest of Paris.

By Road: There is no single national bus service. Furthermore, buses are limited to local mass transit or departmental/regional service.

By Train: The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly from RailEurope, a subsidiary of the SNCF. The Eurostar service uses high-speed to connect Lille and Paris with London, the later via the Calais-Dover channel tunnel.

Tourist information: Maison de la France/The French Government Tourist Office
825 Third Avenue, 29th floor (entrance on 50th street)
New York, NY 10022

Accommodation:
Hotels come in 4 categories from 1 to 4 stars. This is the official rating given by the Ministry of Tourism, and it is posted at the entrance on a blue shield. Rates vary according to accommodation, location and sometimes high or low season or special events.

Penguins & parties in Melbourne
 

I have done pretty crazy things in my life, like jumping off long distance trains in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country and wandering around to find a beautiful location or a waterfall or something. I have gone backpacking through Europe on road trips, sometimes hitchhiking, meeting some wonderful some strange people at times.

I have been advised against it, but there is so much I have learnt through those experiences that it feels like a lifetime already.

Also after going through the Tsunami experience when I was in Thailand on a holiday, and meeting Ness in the process has changed my life forever. I don’t think the traveller in me will ever rest.

After having a passport that looks like a log book thanks to your work, it’s difficult to pick one favourite holiday spot. But if I had to, I think it would be Australia because I feel at home there now. While shooting there for Salaam Namaste I was so well-acquainted with the place already that I could show Saif and the entire crew around.

Melbourne would be my favourite city in the world. It’s called the cultural capital of Australia, but from the energy, the look of the city and friendliness of the locals, you can safely call it the cultural capital of the world.

It has the most multicultural, diverse and cosmopolitan culture with Greeks, Asians, Italians and their respective cultures integrated very sensitively into the social fabric.

One of the best means to see the city is on bike. There are some scenic trials marked out for tourists on bikes, and especially the Yarra River trail that runs along the omnipresent river of the city through some beautiful parks is worth the trip.

Exploring the city through long walks or trams that run through the heart of the city is also an option. Despite it being a major city, Melbourne doesn’t really get crowded even during peak hours, which makes the walks pleasurable. If you like knowing the history of places you visit and like reading in general, go to the state library which is the biggest library I have ever seen. And you will bump into some literary geniuses from Australia sitting in the cafes there and one usually ends up having an interesting conversation.

Melbourne is a great place for shopping, and I don’t just mean clothes, but practically everything. The central business district houses some of the best stores, bars and restaurants in the city.

The sports stadium is also in the area and has some bars set right across the riverbanks, and you can sip on your drink taking in the beautiful views.

The people here love sports, so if there is a major sporting event like a cricket or rugby league match, the whole area turns into a carnival and it is the best time to be there.

There is also the Queen Victoria market where you can pick up souvenirs and knick knacks. Here you will find some really unique artefacts for the house, made by local artists at ridiculously cheap prices.

If you walk though the Carlton district of the city, you will feel like you are probably in Italy because it has a majority of Italians based here, and the streets are lined with Italian restaurants.

There is also a museum depicting the Italian migration and history in Australia, which is very interesting. You can also take your kids to the city zoo. They have jazz music evenings at the zoo and music lovers can stay back after the sunset and enjoy a musical night.

You can also take couple of days off after your city tour of Melbourne and visit the Grampians National Park outside the city, which is a huge tourist attraction. And also visit the Philip Island, which attracts tourists for Penguin parades.

From penguins to parties, it is all here in Melbourne, a place where you can have a nice relaxed holiday.

fundamentals
 
By Senjam Raj Sekhar

Kutub Quizzers recently had a quiz on Delhi. The quiz was conducted by Doc aka Bhatta aka Dr. Bhattacharya.

Rounds had interesting names relating to Delhi. The connection round was called Rishtey hi Rishtey, then there was the Dry rounds – closed on all religious holidays. Even the break in between had a name, it was called Rukawat Ke Liye Khed Hai, in old Doordarshan style.

Some questions from Dilli quiz are excerpted here.

Dilli Quiz – Kutub Quizzers

1. Delhi ended up winning Santosh Trophy only once when they hosted it in 1943, amidst controversies as alleged by their opponents Bengal. What exactly were the so called controversies?

2. Sawan Mal was the Diwan of Multan and a top commander in Ranjit Singh’s army. He is known for wresting Multan from the Afghans in 1823. However, we know him for his invention of a famous sweetmeat made of desi ghee and corn flour in Delhi & Multan. What is it?

3. Keval Malik was the trendy, & fashionable daughter of Teja S. Malik the chief contractor who built Lutyens Delhi. She however created ripples when she ignored worthy fellow suitors like P.C. Lal (71 war Air Chief) and Bharat Ram of Sriram group and selected a then little known struggling lawyer of Lahore High Court. Identify him.

4. When faced with a prospect of a massive rally by Jai Prakash Narayan, at the Ram Lilla grounds what ingenious method was employed by then PM Mrs Indira Gandhi to keep away the crowds from the rally?

5. Winifred Selina was an amateur landscape artist whose suggestions were even valued by Edwin Lutyens esp. with regards to laying of the gardens in Persian Charbagh style. Mughal Gardens, Delhi was in fact dedicated to her by Lutyens. Identify this society lady.

6. Born Stella Charnaud in Constantinople in 1894 where her father worked for the British Foreign Service. There, she met the Viceroy Rufus Isaacs, whom she would marry in 1931. Women’s Voluntary Service or WRS founded by her, recruited female volunteers before and during the war & did lot of social, medical work in Peshawar & Delhi. Identify her?

7. Who was the first Christian martyr and patron saint of Delhi?

8. This festival celebrated for marital bliss, well-being of spouse and children. It is a three-day-long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts & fasting. This festival is dedicated to Parvati, and named after a red ground dwelling insect akin to ants.Which festival is this?

9. This Doon School and Wharton aluminus opened the first fashion boutique in India. His own brand label is known as, Ahilian. He has designed for a number of celebrities and was widely acclaimed for his Jemima Khan’s wedding collection?

10. They were biggest owner of Lahore city bus fleet in pre-partition Punjab and later having pioneered farm mechanization in the country. They have been a major player in the railway equipment business in India for nearly five decades whose product offering includes brakes, couplers, shock absorbers, rail fastening systems, composite brake blocks and vulcanized rubber parts. Identify?

11. Which 1986 movie written by Gulzar starred Shashi Kapoor A.K. Hangal, Sharmila had music of Louis Banks and cinematography of Subrata Mitra?

12. Its roots can be traced back to 8th century Persia. Amir Khusro is credited with fusing the Persian and Indian musical traditions to create this. The formal name used for a session of this is Mehfil-e-Sama In Arabic, it literally means “utterance (of the prophet.”

13. In 1947, a Marathi Karhade Brahmin became Chief Minister of the United Provinces, which he renamed Uttar Pradesh. He abolished the zamindari system. He was called on to succeed K.N. Katju as Home Minister in 1955; in that position, his chief achievement was the establishment of Hindi as an official language of the central government. In 1957, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna. He also established Birla Vidya Mandir.

Answers

Dilli Quiz – Kutub Quizzers

1. The Bengal team was allegedly duped into climbing of Qutb Minar and were exhausted.
2. Sohan Halwa
3. Khushwant Singh
4. Mrs Gandhi showed BOBBY on DD.
5. Lady Hardinge.
6. Lady Ripon
7. St  stephens
8. Teej
9. Tarun Tahliani
10. Nandas of Escorts
11. New Delhi Times
12. Qawwali
13. G.B  Pant

 
 Features of the Week
 
 

Deccan Chronicle

Katrina Pecah Panggung

5 Sep


KATRINA berjaya menakluki Bollywood selepas pernah tidak diterima kehadirannya disebabkan loghat Inggerisnya yang pekat.

AKTRES Bollywood kelahiran British, Katrina Kaif kini disebut-sebut sebagai aktres paling panas di Bollywood mengalahkan nama-nama aktres popular di India yang termasuklah Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai dan Priyanka Chopra.

Selepas muncul menerusi enam buah filem pecah panggung silih berganti dan menjadi duta dan model beberapa jenama produk terkenal – semua kualiti yang diperlukan ada pada Katrina yang kini layak bergelar aktres Bollywood paling panas, ujar pengkritik industri hiburan di India.

“Katrina sudah benar-benar ranum sebagai seorang aktres. Di Bollywood, pelakon paling dikenali berdasarkan bilangan filem lakonannya yang pecah panggung.

“Katrina kini sudah mencapai kemenangan dari segi itu. Dia boleh digelar maskot bertuah untuk setiap penerbit filem-filem lakonannya,” ulas pengkritik filem popular India, Tarun Adarsh kepada agensi berita IANS.

Selepas filem lakonan terbarunya di samping aktor Askhay Kumar, Singh Is Kinng meraih sambutan hangat di pawagam, Katrina mengesahkan dirinya sebagai aktres nombor satu Bollywood.

Kisah kejayaan Katrina bermula dengan filem Namastey London sebelum diikuti kejayaan filem Apne, Partner, Welcome, Race dan sekarang ini, Singh Is Kinng.

“Tahun lepas pencapaian kerjaya saya sungguh menakjubkan, dan tahun ini nampaknya masih sama. Saya ingin mengucap kesyukuran kepada Tuhan.

“Saya percaya kepada menikmati dengan gembira kerja-kerja (lakonan) yang saya lakukan ini. Amat lega sekali untuk mengetahui selepas bekerja keras selama ini, inilah hasilnya. Saya akan meneruskan usaha dan kerja keras saya ini,” ucap Katrina penuh teruja dengan perjalanan karier lakonannya itu.

Bintang jelita berusia 24 tahun ini mula menceburkan diri sebagai aktres di Bollywood pada tahun 2003, tetapi ramai penerbit filem ketika itu enggan mengambilnya berlakon disebabkan loghat Inggerisnya yang pekat.

Namun, selepas lima tahun berusaha keras menggilap nama, Katrina kini boleh berbangga apabila melonjakkan dirinya ke tahap aktres kelas pertama industri filem Hindi.

Risiko menjadi bintang paling panas ialah jangkaan yang tinggi terhadap setiap kemunculan menerusi filem baru, dan ia tidak terkecuali dihadapi Katrina.

Bakal muncul menerusi filem terbaru terbitan Subhash Ghai, Yuvraaj berkisar mengenai remaja kontemporari yang degil dan terlalu berkeyakinan menjelang Oktober ini, Katrina yakin filem ini juga nanti bakal pecah panggung.

Pengkritik filem, Anupama Chopra berkata kemunculan Katrina menerusi Yuvraaj dinanti-nantikan ramai.

“Katrina bertuah kerana memilih untuk berlakon filem-filem yang pecah panggung sejak kebelakangan ini, biarpun filem pertama lakonannya, Boom gagal di pasaran box-office,” ujar Chopra.

Tambahnya, “Dia seorang aktres yang kelihatan hebat dan sejauh ini dia mencapai kejayaan yang memberangsangkan menerusi imej dirinya yang bak anak patung glamor itu. Dari segi lakonan, dia memperlihatkan sisi yang kuat menerusi wataknya seperti dalam filem Namastey London.”

Katrina yang memiliki tujuh adik-beradik lain yang kesemuanya perempuan dibesarkan di Hawaii sebelum mengikut keluarganya berpindah ke London.

Dia memulakan karier sebagai model di Hawaii secara tidak sengaja pada usia 14 tahun, dan meneruskan kerjaya itu di London sebelum membuat keputusan menjadi salah seorang pelakon di Bollywood yang merupakan industri perfileman terbesar di dunia.

Namanya sebelum ini lebih dikenali sebagai kekasih aktor ternama Bollywood, Salman Khan.

Kosmo

Denise Pegang Watak Utama Bollywood

2 Sep

LOS ANGELES – Selebriti Denise Richards akan menjadi aktres terkenal Hollywood pertama yang akan berlakon dan memegang watak utama dalam filem Bollywood, lapor sebuah akhbar semalam.

Aktres yang popular sebagai gadis James Bond dalam filem The World Is Not Enough itu akan berlakon dalam filem Kambakht Ishq yang diterbitkan oleh penerbit filem Bollywood terkenal, Sajid Nadiadwala.

Nadiadwala berkata, Denise mengambil masa yang agak lama sebelum memutuskan untuk menerima tawaran berlakon dalam filem itu.

“Denise mengambil masa selama tiga bulan untuk membaca skrip dan membuat keputusan sehingga menyebabkan jadual kami terpaksa ditunda.

“Bagaimanapun, ia sangat berbaloi kerana aktres itu terkenal di seluruh dunia kerana imejnya sebagai gadis Bond,” ujarnya.

Dalam filem tersebut, Denise akan bersaing dengan aktres terkenal Bollywood, Kareena Kapoor untuk mendapatkan cinta seorang pelakon lagak ngeri lakonan aktor terkenal, Akshay Kumar. – Agensi

Kosmo

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