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Pinto Mengejutkan Bollywood

14 Feb

Susunan Nurulhisham Abdul Latiff
nurul@bharian.com

Kemunculannya dalam filem Slumdog Millionaire membuka mata banyak pihak daripada penerbit, pengarah dan pelakon ternama di Mumbai

SETAHUN yang lalu, mungkin namanya begitu asing pada dunia perfileman antarabangsa.

Siapalah yang mengenali wanita bernama Freida Pinto, kecuali bagi peminat yang peka pada dunia peragaan. Maklum saja, ketika itu namanya sungguh kecil jika hendak dibandingkan dengan Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee atau Preity Zinta.

Namun hari ini, rata-rata pemerhati filem memperkatakan mengenai kemunculan si cantik dari Mumbai, India itu. Sejak beberapa bulan lalu, wajahnya sering kali terpampang di dada akhbar dan majalah, ketika melintasi pelbagai majlis anugerah.

Penampilannya yang pertama dalam filem hangat menjadi topik perbualan masa kini, Slumdog Millionaire, bukan hanya menjadikan dirinya aktres paling hebat diperkatakan di Bollywood, malah dia tentunya antara insan paling gembira apabila anugerah demi anugerah diterima filem berkenaan sejak tahun lalu.

Sehingga artikel ini ditulis, sudah 18 trofi Filem Terbaik sudah pun menjadi milik Slumdog Millionaire, termasuk pada Anugerah Akademi Filem British (Bafta) 2009 yang baru saja berlangsung 8 Februari lalu.


GAYA menarik pelakon wanita kelahiran Mumbai ini ketika menghadiri Anugerah Gaya Elle 2009.

Pada 23 Februari nanti, tentunya dunia tertunggu-tunggu, apakah filem drama ini sekali lagi dinobat Filem Terbaik pada Anugerah Academy.

Pinto sendiri yang dicalonkan dalam kategori Pelakon Pembantu Wanita pada anugerah Bafta ke-62 terkena tempias kehebatan filem berkenaan.

Malahan pada Isnin lalu, dia dipilih sebagai Pelakon Wanita Terbaik pada Anugerah Gaya Elle 2009 di London.

Apabila nama mula dikenali, tentulah gandingannya dalam filem berikutnya pun pasti terdiri daripada pelakon ternama juga. Freida turut mempunyai senarai impiannya sendiri apabila berbicara mengenai pelakon lelaki yang ingin didampingi dalam filem.

Pada majlis Elle berkenaan, Pinto mendedahkan betapa dia mengimpikan untuk berlakon di samping bintang terkenal Leonardo DiCaprio dan Johnny Depp.

Katanya juga, peluang beraksi di sisi aktor hebat Jack Nicholson pula tidak mungkin dilepaskan begitu saja seandainya rezeki seperti itu tiba ke riba suatu hari nanti.

“Jack Nicholson ialah seorang pelakon yang sentiasa saya idamkan untuk berlakon bersama. Dia seorang aktor yang mempunyai karakter cukup menarik,” ujar artis berusia 24 tahun ini.

Pinto juga tidak mahu mendabik dada walaupun filem arahan Danny Boyle (yang kini sudah mengumpul 19 trofi termasuk Pengarah Terbaik) yang dibintanginya itu dikatakan pencabar terkuat untuk merebut Oscar nanti.

Pada anugerah itu, antara lain filem Slumdog Millionaire akan bersaing dengan dua filem lakonan Pelakon Wanita Terbaik Bafta 2009, Kate Winslet, iaitu The Reader dan Revolutionary Road bagi kategori Filem Terbaik.

Katanya, Winslet ialah pelakon yang dipuja olehnya kerana bakat besar milik aktres terbabit.

“Pastinya saya akan dapat belajar banyak benda apabila dapat berlakon di sampingnya. Dia bintang yang begitu hebat. Kita sendiri pun sudah banyak bergelak ketawa dan berduka tatkala mengikuti menonton lakonannya selama ini.

“Jadi, peluang beraksi di sampingnya tentulah satu peluang yang cukup memberi makna,” katanya.

Menurut Pinto, dia banyak menerima tawaran berlakon selepas kejayaan filem terbabit, namun dia masih lagi terkejut dengan sambutan luar biasa yang diberikan penonton di tanah air sendiri.

Katanya, semua orang bagaikan gila terhadap filem itu kerana ia mendapat pungutan yang cukup tinggi di seluruh dunia, pencapaian yang jarang sekali berlaku di India.

Info:

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE menyaksikan Pinto berlakon sebagai gadis yatim berusia 18 tahun, Latika, yang menemui dua saudara lelaki baru, Jamal dan Salim. Bersama-sama, mereka memulakan perjalanan hidup yang penuh suka dan duka. Malangnya, langkah hidupnya tersasar ke arah onak penuh bahaya dan matlamatnya kini adalah untuk menyatukan dirinya dengan seseorang paling dicintai.

Pinto dipanggil oleh pengarah lakonan yang juga pengarah bersama Slumdog Millionaire, Loveleen Tandon, untuk hadir uji bakat filem berkenaan. Proses itu diikuti oleh sesi uji bakat berbulan-bulan bersama pengarah Danny Boyle. Hanya selepas proses yang dianggapnya menyeronokkan tetapi memeritkan itu, dia akhirnya ditawarkan watak Latika.

SEJAK zaman persekolahan, Pinto aktif membabitkan diri dalam semua kegiatan drama. Dia juga menjadi peragawati selama dua tahun lebih bersama ejen model Elite Model Management India. Selepas mendapat peranan dalam filem terbabit, dia belajar hampir kesemua perkara yang dimahukan daripada pengarah filem itu sendiri. Selepas penggambaran dilakukan, dia tertarik untuk menyertai sekolah lakonan untuk mendapatkan pengalaman. Lalu, dia menghadiri bengkel lakonan dikendalikan guru lakon, Barry John.

MENGINGATI rakaman pertama membabitkannya, Pinto berkata, ia dilakukan pada November 2007 dan kerana terlalu risau, dia tidak dapat melelapkan mata pada malam sebelum penggambaran bermula.

SEPANJANG pembabitannya dalam filem itu, Pinto mula menyedari, industri perfileman adalah untuk mereka yang tidak putus asa berjuang serta mereka yang kuat semangat. paling utama, katanya, seseorang itu mesti percaya pada diri sendiri. Walaupun beratus orang lain menolaknya, dia tidak putus asa dan akhirnya, seorang daripada pengarah terbaik dunia mempercayai bakat dimilikinya.

DI Bollywood, pelakon yang disukainya ialah Tabu. Dia turut menggemari karya Konkona Sen Sharma. Madhuri Dixit pula baginya lambang kepelbagaian bakat, manakala Smita Patil dan Shabana Azmi pula pelakon yang menakjubkan. Dia juga mengagumi Aamir Khan. Pelakon barat yang paling dihormatinya pula ialah Meryl Streep.

Info Freida Pinto:

Tarikh Lahir: 18 Oktober 1984

Bintang: Libra

Asal: Mumbai, India

Filem: Slumdog Millionaire

Program TV: Full Circle

Iklan: India Today, Wrigleys Chewing Gum, Skoda, Hutch, Airtel, De Beers

Berita Harian

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Bisa Raja Bollywood

4 Jan

PELUANG berlakon di samping aktor berkarisma, Shah Rukh Khan mampu menjadikan karier seorang pelakon baru bergemerlapan di Bollywood.

Tumpuan terhadap aktres itu sama seperti ketika filem baru James Bond diumum. Masyarakat pasti akan tertanya-tanya siapa gadis baru Bond. Senario sama turut berlaku apabila heroin muda diumum bergandingan dengan Shah Rukh.

Perbualan tertumpu terhadap isu sama ada gadis baru ini sangat cantik atau memiliki bakat besar untuk menyaingi karisma Shah Rukh dan akhirnya sama ada beliau mampu atau tidak menjadi bintang di Bollywood.

Model yang beralih ke dunia lakonan, Anushka Sharma, 21, adalah aktres muda yang meniti jalan untuk bergelar bintang Bollywood selepas muncul di samping Shah Rukh dalam filem yang dinantikan, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

Karier Anushka akan ditentukan penerimaan masyarakat terhadap filem itu, selain tanggapan masyarakat terhadap mutu lakonannya. Apapun, beliau dianggap bernasib baik berpeluang berlakon di samping Shah Rukh.

Berikut adalah penilaian terhadap pelakon yang memulakan karier mereka berlakon di samping aktor pujaan Bollywood itu.

Shilpa Shetty

Gadis tinggi lampai yang memiliki tubuh seksi ini berlakon sebagai pelakon pembantu di samping Shah Rukh dalam filem Baazigar.

Filem itu diminati ramai dan Shilpa berpeluang berlakon dalam beberapa filem box office lain.

Shilpa melakukan pembedahan hidung dan mengekalkan kecantikannya yang menyebabkan beliau menjadi perbualan masyarakat, sekali gus membantunya ditawar berlakon dalam beberapa filem popular.

Namun tanpa disangka, beliau menjadi bintang antarabangsa dalam sekelip mata apabila muncul juara rancangan realiti, Celebrity Big Brother yang disiar rangkaian televisyen Britain.

Tahun lalu, mutu lakonannya dalam Life in a… Metro mendapat pujian dan kemudian berlakon di samping Shah Rukh dalam filem Om Shanti Om.

Khabar angin hangat mendakwa Shilpa akan berkahwin dengan ahli perniagaan, Raja Mundra dan berhenti berlakon, tapi apapun karier lakonannya sudahpun menarik.

Suchitra Krishnamurthy

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa yang menggandingkan Suchitra dengan Shah Rukh dianggap yang terbaik buat aktor itu daripada segi komersial mahupun kritik.

Bagaimanapun, beliau kemudian beralih angin ke bidang nyanyian dan mengahwini Shekar Kapur, pengarah filem yang dicalon untuk anugerah Oscar, Elizabeth.

Baru-baru ini, Suchitra berpisah dengan Shekar dan kembali berlakon di samping Anil Kapoor dalam filem My Wife’s Murder.

Selepas namanya dijulang, Suchitra tidak ambil peluang untuk mengorak langkah lebih jauh di Bollywood.

Mandira Bedi

Mandira berlakon sebagai pelakon pembantu dalam filem box office, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge. Meskipun tumpuan diberi kepada Shah Rukh dan Kajol, wajah Mandira yang comel dan lakonannya yang mantap memikat hati ramai peminat.

Namun, permulaan memberangsangkan itu tidak menjadi titik tolak karier yang lebih mantap, sebaliknya namanya semakin terkenal apabila menjadi pengacara sebuah rancangan ketika Piala Dunia Kriket 1999.

Seluruh negara terpikat dengan kecantikan dan ketrampilannya yang menawan. Meskipun namanya dalam dunia lakonan tetap sama, selepas itu beliau menjadi tumpuan umum.

Mahima Chaudhary

Nama Mahima dijulang hasil lakonan mantap dalam filem Pardes. Ramai percaya beliau memiliki potensi untuk menggantikan Madhuri Dixit sebagai ratu baru Bollywood.

Namun, dengan bakat, kecantikan dan filem besar, Mahima melakukan kesilapan apabila menjalin hubungan dengan pemain tenis, Leander Paes dan terlepas peluang berlakon dalam beberapa filem besar.

Selepas berpisah, Mahima cuba kembali tapi gagal. Beliau kemudian berkahwin dan menjadi ibu sepenuh masa. Kariernya bermula dengan cerah, tapi kesilapan dalam hidup peribadinya melenyapkan peluang di Bollywood.

Preity Zinta

Preity berlakon sebagai pelakon pembantu dalam filem Dil Se di samping Shah Rukh. Meskipun filem itu gagal, mutu lakonan dan ketrampilan segar Preity berjaya memikat penonton.

Beliau kemudian berlakon dalam beberapa filem box office dan menerima pelbagai anugerah hasil lakonan mantapnya.

Jalinan lakonan antara Preity dan Shah Rukh antara yang terbaik di kalangan pelakon baru yang pernah berlakon di samping aktor itu.

Kal Ho Na Ho, Veer-Zara dan Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna antara filem box office Preity dan dia aktres paling berjaya dalam senarai yang pernah berlakon disisi Shah Rukh.

Gayathri Joshi

Gayathri memulakan kariernya sebagai model iklan televisyen. Namanya menjadi sebutan hasil lakonan mantap dalam filem Swades arahan Ashutosh Gowariker.

Meskipun masih baru, lakonan mantap Gayathri dalam filem itu mengagumkan ramai peminat.

Umum menjangkakan beliau mampu pergi jauh dalam industri, tapi Gayathri sebaliknya memutuskan untuk meninggalkan dunia perfileman dan berkahwin.

Deepika Padukone

Filem debut, Om Shanti Om menjulang nama Deepika. Gadis tinggi lampai yang tegap ini berjaya membawa dua watak dalam filem ini dengan berkesan dan mencipta sejarah apabila kutipan tiket Om Shanti Om diumum yang tertinggi dalam sejarah Bollywood.

Tidak mengejutkan jika Deepika meraih semua anugerah Pelakon Baru Terbaik dalam semua majlis anugerah di India tahun ini.

Filem kedua, Bachna Ae Haseeno bersama teman lelakinya, Ranbir Kapoor turut mendapat sambutan dan beliau kini menjalani penggambaran di samping aktor Akshay Kumar dalam filem Chandni Chowk To China.

Deepika turut akan membintangi filem Biloo Barber di samping Shah Rukh dan beberapa projek mega lain. Hakikatnya, nama Deepika bakal lama di Bollywood.

Anushka Sharma

Seperti Deepika, Anushka adalah model yang bertugas di Bangalore. Tahun lalu, kemunculannya di Minggu Fesyen India Lakme membuatkan dirinya menjadi buah mulut umum.

Beliau terpilih membintangi Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi di samping Shah Rukh kerana penerbit percaya Anushka memiliki wajah cantik yang ringkas dan kualiti diperlukan untuk menjiwai watak itu.

“Saya kagum dengan keyakinan Anushka. Persembahannya menyebabkan saya bekerja lebih keras lagi,” kata Shah Rukh, memuji Anushka yang bakal menjadi titik tolak buat karier aktres muda itu.

Tidak mustahil beliau mampu mencuri tumpuan ramai terhadap Shah Rukh, tapi tidak dapat dipastikan lagi apakah keajaiban Shah Rukh akan kekal dan dapat melonjakkan nama pelakon muda yang jelita ini.

Harian Metro

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

March Of The Bachelorette Brigade

3 Aug

March of the bachelorette brigade
 
By Narayani Basu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brides who showed the door to grooms
 
By Amita Verma

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

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

Sway to the rhythm divine
 
By Neha Rathi

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

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

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

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

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

If you do something, go the whole way
 

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

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

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

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

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

At home with ghosts
 
By Veenu Sandal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning through seeing
 
By Ranjan Kamath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ranjan.kamath@gmail.com

Sexual seduction comes back to haunt you
 
By Ayush Maheshwari

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can email your experiences to ayush@bigindian.inῠῠ

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

‘Those 3 magic words’
 
By Samantha Brett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert

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

Vernacular rock on a roll
 
By Debarun Borthakur

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unplugged
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

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

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

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

Akshay

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

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

My hasty decisions have been my failing: Zayed
 

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

Mads back to Mumbai soon
 
Film news

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

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

Jiah Khan vs Aamir Khan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Young Turks of cyberspace
 

ONCE YOU’RE LUCKY, TWICE YOU’RE GOOD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I prefer reading intellectual books’
 
By Milind Soman

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

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

Worthy additions you will cherish
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Echoes of Dharamsala
 
By Christine Pemberton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle

Yasmin, A True Malaysian

22 Jul

Yasmin and some of her works in posters.
Yasmin and some of her works in posters.

When you see an out-of-the-ordinary commercial or film, you can bet your bottom dollar that Yasmin Ahmad would have had a hand in it. FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN talks to the celebrated director whose works transcend racial boundaries.

The award-winning advertisement Tan Min Hong in Love.
The award-winning advertisement Tan Min Hong in Love.

RENOWNED film-maker Yasmin Ahmad’s heart-warming TV commercial, Tan Hong Ming in Love, has amassed a total of 21 awards.

The commercial which was part of last year’s Merdeka campaign picked up top awards at reputed advertising events in the Asia-Pacific region as well as those in the United States (Andy Awards, One Show 2008, Clio Awards Festival) and United Kingdom (British Design and Art Direction awards), among others.

More recently, it became the first local work ever to be honoured with Gold Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival 2008 in France. Another Petronas advert under the same campaign, Race, bagged Bronze Lion at the same event.

Yasmin, who was delighted when she heard the news said: “InsyaAllah, it is still travelling the world and picking up awards. It now has a life of its own.”

Tan Hong Ming in Love is a simple yet heartfelt interview by primary schoolchildren, Tan, and the girl he has a crush on, Ummi Qazrina. One of the most captivating scenes in the commercial is the look on Tan’s face when Ummi announces that Tan is her boyfriend.

In April, nine months after the shoot, Yasmin had the opportunity to have lunch and catch up with the two talents.

“They have grown so much! He still fancies her, but she tak layan (ignores) because there’s another boy who’s interested in her,” Yasmin said, adding that both Tan and Ummi are now very famous in school, especially Tan.

“My friend, film-maker Ho YuHang, wanted to feature him in his upcoming commercial. But Tan just refused to speak! He just sat there and said: ‘I don’t want to talk’. I was lucky that I caught him for the Petronas ad when he was in a good mood.”

While Tan Hong Ming captivated the world with a simple story about a boy-girl crush, another of Yasmin’s work which is taking the world by storm is Mukhsin, a tale about adolescents’ first love.

Mukhsin was recently screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was part of a special series on Asian cinema called ContemporAsian and also featured Ling Yi Ban (China) and Senkyo (Japan).

Following the screenings, Mukhsin received a thumbs-up from film critics, with the New York Post writer saying: “I am so taken by Mukhsin that I’m going to hunt down the two previous movies”.

“And I also received news that Mukhsin is still playing in France and it has already been a month.”

The film’s distribution right was recently sold by Grand Brilliance to a French company.

Her recent work Muallaf has been picked by the prestigious Lucarno Film Festival. Finas (National Film Developmet Corporation) has offered to help with the 35mm film transfer as well as making film prints and Dolby audio transfer which could cost up to RM200,000.

She said the film is currently with the National Censorship Board and that Media Prima has the distribution rights.

As to how the deal with Media Prima was inked, she said: “I showed it to ntv7 so that it could be screened on TV because I gave up on that film going anywhere.

“I have made it with help from a friend in Ipoh and all they have to do is finish it. But then I was told that Media Prima wants to push it for a cinema release. The first thing they have to do is submit it to the Censorship Board.

“As for the Lucarno which will be held next month, I don’t think I can make it because we are rehearsing for my upcoming film, Talentime. We will shoot the film on Aug 17 in Ipoh,” she said.

For Talentime, she said Sharifah Amani Syed Yahya, who was understandably Yasmin’s muse for her earlier works (Sepet, Gubra, Muallaf), will not star in it.

“She wants to learn film-direction and production, as the movie’s third assistant director. Replacing her is Pamela Chong, know for her stint in Amazing Race Asia.”

She said meeting her reminded Yasmin of meeting Amani and her sister, Sharifah Aleya, for the first time. They were smart, witty and intelligent. She said Chong will star alongside a newcomer, Mahesh Jugal Kishore.

The two have met during rehearsals and “the chemistry is electric”. Other stars include Mohd Syafie Naswip, who made his debut performance in Mukhsin, Jaclyn Victor and Azean Irdawaty.

“It’s a story about family and a talent competition in a rundown school. Mohd Syafie plays a teenager whose mother is suffering from brain tumour. It moves in tandem with Mahesh’s story whose sister is played by Jac and then there’s Chong’s family who comes from a mixed parentage,” she said.

“There’s a lot of ‘mud’ in these stories, from which comes the most beautiful lotus,” she said, adding that she has also been rewriting the script since the rehearsal began. “It’s interesting how you discover new things at rehearsals.”

Talentime will feature a beautiful soundtrack O Re Piya, taken from Bollywood’s acclaimed love story last year, Aaja Nachle, starring Madhuri Dixit and sung by classical singer Rahat Fatheh Ali Khan, the nephew of legendary Indian artiste, Nusrat.

Other composers for Talentime include Pete Teo who composed three songs, two of which Yasmin penned. There are other compositions including one by Yasmin’s parent’s which was written in 1957 called Kasih Tak Kembali. The others are by New Zealand TV commercial composer Anton, a local band Silent Scream and a Sydney-based songwriter Azhar.

“InsyaAllah there will be a soundtrack from Talentime. We will have to wait and see,” she said with a smile.

How did Azean come on board?

“I have always been a fan of her work. Who hasn’t? And the more bad press she receives, the more I admire her. When I met her, she told me that she wanted to act in my film some day. I was surprised. ‘Azean wants to star in my film?’. She said she wouldn’t mind playing a woman suffering from brain tumour.”

 

New Straits Times

Perang Dingin Shah Rukh Dan Amitabh

22 Jun

NAMPAKNYA, kedua-dua artis ini masih lagi berlaga angin. Kali ini, Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) yang ‘menyiram minyak’ ke atas sekam. Keadaan ini menyebabkan perang dingin dengan Amitabh Bachchan kembali memuncak.

Menurut sumber, keluarga Bachchan (Big B, Abishek, dan Aishwarya Rai) akan mengadakan jelajah muzik global bertajuk The Unforgettables di Toronto pada 18 Julai depan. Terbaru, SRK memberi kejutan dengan mengadakan jelajah muzik yang sama, Temptations Reloaded, semalam di Amsterdam.

Persembahan ini akan diarah oleh King Khan.

Bintang yang terlibat termasuk Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, dan Arjun Rampal. Sementara itu, legasi Bachchan menampilkan Preity Zinta, Akshay Kumar, Madhuri Dixit, dan Ritesh Deskmukh.

Situasi ini menunjukkan seolah-

olah SRK ingin mencabar legasi Bachchan selepas kekalahan rancangan TV SRK di tangan keluarga Bachchan.

Utusan Malaysia

Make A Fashion Statement With Waistcoats

18 Jun

Make a fashion statement with waistcoats
 

Waistcoats are ‘in’ this season. From superstars like  SRK to regular college going guys, everyone is sporting this trendy semi-formal wear. Earlier, waistcoats used to be formal wear worn on top of shirts to complete a tuxedo. Now, guys are sporting it to make a style statement, especially at social dos. Says fashion designer Abhishek Dutta, since waistcoats cling to the body and accentuate the waistline, it’s best for medium-built or slim men to wear this. About the fabric, Dutta says, “Guys can choose from denim, suede, leather or thick linen. The pointed portion should reach up to the waistline and it’s always better to have buttons rather than zips on your waistcoat.

Talking about the colours and patterns, Dutta says, Large Madras checks, blocks and Gingham checks (closely-bound gradation checks) are quite ‘in’. “Thin, vertical stripes in pink are also popular as they  enhance the tall and slim look. On the other hand, those who are rather lanky and want to look a bit heavy should opt for horizontal stripes.” Among the cool, solid colours are black, charcoal grey, brown, tones of rust and maroon, informs the designer. When waistcoats are worn over shirts or suits of almost the same colour, this renders it a more formal and sober look. For the fashionable young crowd, it’s better to opt for frayed, denim waistcoats on shirts. “It’s also a safer option to wear striped or checkered waistcoats when the shirt is of a solid colour and vice-versa,” suggests Dutta.

 

‘My family is my best critic’
 
Laxmi Ratan Shukla, cricketer

Cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla takes the criticism and compliments from his father and wife very seriously.

Q Down memory lane῅ I was a very naughty child and frequently used to bunk classes and play cricket. My teachers used to get very angry. However, when I meet them now, referring to my bunking, they tell me, bahut aachha kiya. (It was a good thing that you did).

Q If not a sportsperson῅ Perhaps I would have joined my dad’s business.

Q Your favourite holiday destinations in India and abroad? In India, I love the scenic mountains of Rishikesh in Uttaranchal. Abroad, I like England where I have many friends. Scotland, Yorkshire and Liverpool are other favourite destinations near England.

Q  Any social work you are into? I don’t believe in instituionalised charity because most of the times, you are never sure if the money will reach the right persons. When someone approaches me, I verify if the person is really needy and then help him. Some years ago, I raised Rs 4 lakh by playing for my local club. I donated the money to the families of Kargil soldiers who lost their lives.

Q  Personalities you admire most῅ My father who used to coach and inspire me since my childhood, Sourav Ganguly, (I grew up watching him), Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit. What amazes me about Big B is the fact that even at 65, he is so fit and hard working. I have watched SRK from close quarters during the two months of IPL. He is so down to earth and yet such a successful man.

Q How do you like to chill out? I love to spend time with my wife and parents, whenever I get time. I also watch TV and movies and chat with friends to relax.

Q Your favourite cuisines? Homemade food prepared by my mother.

Q What is the best compliment you have received so far and from whom? My family is my best critic.  So, when my father and wife Smita praise me, (which is not very often), I take it as a compliment. Also, during the IPL, when I took three wickets in one over, both Sourav Ganguly and Shah Rukh Khan praised me. I consider it a great moment.

Q Your message for those who want to make it big in the field of sports? Work hard. However, don’t jump into a cricketing career just for the lure of money and glamour or just because your parents are forcing you to get into cricket. Take up the sport only if you truly love the game.

Mr Nice doesn’t mean ‘doormat’
 
Male call

Q  My girlfriend and I have started to move to the next level, but now she says the relationship is boring, and that I’m too nice to her. How can I make the relationship fun, and not be so nice?

A Just one question for you: what relationship? Because this one was toast from ‘Hello.’ At least she was honest and didn’t give you the “It’s not you, it’s me” line. Although we hope her assessment of “boring” didn’t happen to come immediately after your move to the “next level.” OK, then, here’s the thing: There’s nice, and then there’s doormat. It’s one thing to be polite, generous and mindful of feelings. It’s another to be servile, supplicant and slavish. Being ‘nice’ is fine, even admirable, but it’s no secret that most women prefer guys with a little backbone, too. So even your civility with a smidge of brazenness, recklessness and of course, a dash of humour.

The situation: You’re debating where to go on a date; girlfriend suggests a place and asks what you would like to do. Possible responses: Too nice: “Whatever you want, dear. What would you like me to wear?” Too mean: “That’s the most idiotic idea I’ve ever heard in my life. What’s the speed-dial for Round Table again?”

Just right: “I’ll take care of it; let me surprise you. Appropriate attire would be, um, that black dress with the plunging back. The short one.” Plus, just think of the admiring looks you’ll get from the other couples when you walk into the pizza place. Priceless!       

Want brownie points? Be your wife’s buddy
 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gushed in an interview that a girl who finds a friend in her husband is the luckiest wife. We speak to a few happily married women to find out what equation they share with their husband

Sunita Sengupta,  television actor For a healthy relationship, couples should not stick to playing the traditional roles of husband and wife. Instead, they must be good friends. They should not have pre-conceived expectations but treat each other as individuals. My husband, Harsh Chhaya is supportive of my decisions and he is proud of all my achievements. What makes me feel that he’s my best friend is he recognises my desires, problems and difficulties.

Sheeba ,  television actor It’s very important for couples to be friends first. It goes without saying that friends always respect each other and that’s the underlying foundation for any successful relationship. I have been married for 11 years now, and I’m lucky to have found a friend, confidant and guide in my husband. He’s my support whenever I am confused and need advice. Men must remember, it’s little things that make women happy and my husband understands this simple rule.

Mahima Chaudhary, actor My husband is the one I hang out with 24/7, so it’s important that he’s my best friend. I can confide in him, no matter what. It also helps that we have common interests. The best thing about my husband is that he knows me inside out. To be a woman’s best friend, one has to be honest with her and above all, respect her. Honesty, trust and respect are three attributes which are very important in any relationship, more so in a marriage.

I invest in real estate: Rajneesh Duggal
 

I  always look for uniformity when it comes to yielding profits. That’s one of the main reasons why I keep myself away from the stock market.  I personally believe in buying insurance policies as they remain unaffected by the ups and downs of the stock market. When it comes to investments, I usually trust safer options. Most of my money is invested in mutual funds and insurance policies.  I like to secure my future by buying both life insurance policies as well as health insurances for myself and my family.

Those who just can’t avoid the temptation on quick money that shares promise, must watch the market carefully, at least for three-four months. While planning investment in stock market one needs  to have complete knowledge of the market.  If you have little money and are looking for short term benefits, I would suggest you invest in mutual funds. They are definitely a safer option.  Real estate is best form of investment, if you are looking at yielding bigger profits in the long run. Gold is also a good investment option, though I don’t buy too much of it.

 

 Features of the Week

 

 

Deccan Chronicle