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Akshay Dampingi Kylie Minogue

3 Mar

KYLIE MINOGUE (kiri) bersama pelakon Bollywood, Akshay Kumar.

KYLIE MINOGUE kini berada di India untuk mendampingi pelakon popular Bollywood, Akshay Kumar.

Mereka bukanlah bercinta tetapi bakal bergandingan untuk satu babak lagu filem berjudul, Blue arahan Antony Dsouza.

Kylie telah tiba di Mumbai pada 26 Februari lalu dan dijadualkan berada di situ selama lapan hari.

Dia bakal berlatih selama dua hari sebelum masuk ke set penggambaran filem tersebut.

Skor muzik Blue merupakan hasil karya A R Rahman yang baru meraih dua Oscar termasuk kategori Skor Muzik Terbaik menerusi filem Slumdog Millionaire.

Selain Akshay, turut sama bakal terbabit dengan Kylie dalam penggambaran lagu tersebut ialah beberapa pelakon lain filem tersebut yang termasuklah Sanjay Dutt, Lara Dutta dan Zayed Khan.


Bollywood Returns To Kashmir As Violence Falls

22 Feb

SRINAGAR, India: It had all the hustle and bustle of a typical Bollywood movie set but with one big difference — the flick was being made in Indian Kashmir, usually more in the news for shoot-outs than for film shoots.

For onlookers, the rolling cameras were another sign violence is declining in Muslim-majority Kashmir, beset by a deadly separatist revolt since 1989.

The film, “Lamhaa”, or “Moment”, has top Bollywood box office draws Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu playing lead roles.

“Kashmir is a paradise on earth. It’s wonderful to be here,” said Dutt, 49, after a scene on a bridge over the fast-flowing Jehlum river, the site of many clashes between soldiers and Islamist rebels.

“I’ve a special emotional attachment to the land and the people here as my father and mother both shot films in Kashmir,” said Dutt, whose parents were Bollywood legends.

Before the revolt erupted, the picturesque Kashmir valley was often used by directors to shoot song-and dance-sequences against the backdrop of the shimmering Dal lake in the summer capital Srinagar.

But as the insurgency gained momentum, film-makers shunned the region for security reasons, fearing attacks by militants.

They turned to the Alps in Switzerland as a substitute romantic backdrop for the frothy musical numbers that are staple of the Hindi-language movie industry.

However, violence has declined sharply since nuclear-armed India and Pakistan began a slow-moving peace process in January 2004 to settle their conflicting claims to the region.

The talks were put on hold after the Mumbai attacks, which killed 165 people and which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants but violence has remained low in Kashmir.

In 2007, tourist officials launched a campaign appealing to film-makers to head to the valley, promising heavily-armed escorts and access to any site.

There have been a few small-budget Bollywood movies shot here since, but “Lamhaa” is the first featuring top actors.

“The place is beautiful. The people are beautiful. So anyone who wants to make films in Kashmir should go for it,” said director Rahul Dholakia, who declined to reveal details of the movie’s plot.

“Our policy of promoting Kashmir seems to be working,” said the region’s tourism chief Farooq Shah.

“As peace is fast returning, we hope more producers will return to their favourite haunts in Kashmir,” he said.

And Shah said he hoped if Bollywood film-makers come back to Kashmir, tourists will follow.

The number of visitors to Kashmir — once known as the Switzerland of the East because of its snow-capped mountain vistas — plunged after the outbreak of the revolt.

“I hope that where actors go, tourists will follow,” Shah said.

The return of film crews was greeted with enthusiasm by war-weary Kashmiris.

Young people came in droves to watch the crew scurry in different directions to erect sets.

“It’s great to see the movie-makers back. This kind of ‘peaceful shooting’ will send a very positive signal to the outside world and boost tourism,” said tourist houseboat owner Habib Ullah.

– AFP/yt

Channel News Asia

Bollywood Star Dutt To Contest India Polls

9 Jan

NEW DELHI: Following in the footsteps of his father and sister, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt is set to make his political debut with the socialist Samajwadi Party.

The 49-year-old will be contesting a key constituency in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted party leader Amar Singh saying.

Uttar Pradesh is regarded as politically crucial as it is India’s most populous state and sends 80 MPs to the 545-member national parliament.

Sanjay’s late father Sunil Dutt, who was also a major star in Hindi films during the 1960s and 1970s was a five-time Congress MP and served as federal sports minister.

His sister Priya was elected to the Lok Sabha on a Congress ticket in a by-election after Dutt’s death.

The actor who has found fame playing gangsters and anti-heroes is currently on bail for possessing illegal weapons that he bought from men accused of plotting the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which killed more than 250 people.

In India, convicted criminals are not barred from standing for office.

A study by an Indian watchdog found that nearly a quarter of the 542 people elected to the federal parliament in 2004 had faced criminal charges, including murder and rape.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia

Bollywood's Boys Bulk Up

17 Dec

MUMBAI – Bollywood’s leading actors are hitting the gym as never before, adding brawn and biceps to their on-screen repertoires and winning a legion of new fans in the process — including other men.

The latest weight-training convert is Aamir Khan, who enlisted the help of physical trainer Satyajit Chourasia two years ago to get in shape for the film “Ghajini”, which is released on December 25.

His daily four-hour regime appears to have paid off.

Giant advertising hoardings show a shaven-headed Khan, who plays a man with memory loss who tattoos himself and takes Polaroid pictures to remember people and places, stripped to the waist, exposing a finely-ripped torso.

The 43-year-old said the film’s director A. Murgadoss told him to bulk up because it was essential for the character.

“I too felt that I will not be able to do justice to my role if I am not in this shape,” he said this week.

Asked whether his new look could help boost box office takings, he said it was creating “a lot of buzz among viewers, which is good for the film.”

Historically, the muscle-bound macho hero has never been in vogue in Bollywood.

Instead, leading men were as likely to be measured by the manly thickness of their chest hair or how they carried a tune or moved in the set-piece song and dance routines.

Eyeing the success of Hollywood’s Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s, Bollywood’s Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt began working out, winning accolades and a dedicated fanbase.

But it was not until megastar Shah Rukh Khan got a “six pack” for his 2007 blockbuster “Om Shanti Om” that muscle tone became a must for aspiring Bollywood actors.

Actor John Abraham enlisted the help of Hollywood personal trainer Mike Ryan to prepare for appearing on camera in only a pair of swimming trunks on Miami beach in the film “Dostana”, which was released in October.

“I went on high protein and vigorous training to get that kind of look,” he said.

“It was essential to work out more because I had little time on my hands and had to get that kind of muscular look to complete the film on time.”

His new look has won him a legion of new fans, including in the gay community, he added.

“Earlier some women used to make a pass on me but now even men make passes at me,” said Abraham, who has been nicknamed “The Hunk.”

Satyajit Chourasia is full of praise for actors he has worked with, from Aamir Khan to Saif Ali Khan and Zayed Khan, as well as Hrithik Roshan and Ajay Devgan.

“All the actors are very dedicated. They don’t skip their exercises and maintain themselves which you can see with their looks on the big screen,” he said.

Demand is now so high that Chourasia said he has had to open a second gym in Mumbai, two in his home town of Nagpur, some 900 kilometres (560 miles) east of Mumbai, and two in the Indian capital New Delhi.

But having a perfect physique can have its disadvantages.

British director Danny Boyle has said that casting a Bollywood beefcake as the lead in his hit film “Slumdog Millionaire” would not have worked, even though Indian actors had the talent.

Instead he cast a skinny British Asian actor, Dev Patel. The film is now a hot favourite at next year’s Oscars.

“You know when guys can’t put their arms down cause they have all this muscle mass? They’re 18; they’re only just beyond kids — and their heads are really small,” Boyle told The Huffington Post on November 25.

“They haven’t put any weight on their heads. So you’ve got these tiny little heads and big bodies; that was just wrong for the film.” – CNA/vm

Channel News Asia

Kylie Goes To Bollywood

9 Dec

MUMBAI : Madonna did not respond because she was going through a bitter divorce while R&B star Rihanna wanted too much money. Finally Bollywood managed to snag Kylie Minogue for an upcoming film soundtrack.

The pint-sized Australian pop princess will travel to India next month to record the soundtrack of Bollywood movie “Blue”.

Although she was not the first choice for music director AR Rahman, the disco diva would become the “first international A-list star” to sing for a mainstream Bollywood music director, said DNA newspaper.

Minogue who was recently nominated a Grammy award for the fifth time in the Best Dance Album category, would be paid US$1 million, as well as make a music video.

“Blue” is a big budget Bollywood movie about a sunken treasure ship, said to have been inspired by the Hollywood production “The Deep”. Starring Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt and Laura Dutta, it is due for release next year.

DNA said the movie is close to being the most expensive Bollywood movie ever made, with the production costs amounting to about US$28 million.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia

Sanjay Dutt Duta Tinju

21 Sep

AKTOR Bollywood, Sanjay Dutt yang popular dengan lakonannya sebagai gangster dalam filem Munnabhai diumumkan sebagai duta tinju bagi Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF).

Dalam pengumuman Sanjay sebagai duta, Presiden IABF, Abhey Singh Chautala, memberitahu, tinju telah memberi kemenangan kepada India dalam Sukan Olimpik di Beijing baru-baru ini. Ekoran itu, IABF ingin mempromosikan sukan ini dengan mengambil selebriti sebagai duta.

Dalam pada itu, peninju India, Vijender Kumar yang berasal dari Bhiwani telah memenangi pingat emas dalam sukan tinju di Olimpik Beijing baru-baru ini.

Utusan Malaysia

Celebrate Mooncake Festival With Stars

11 Sep

Yoon will be among the 8TV hosts who will be performing at the 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert, airing live on 8TV tomorrow at 5pm.
Yoon will be among the 8TV hosts who will be performing at the 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert, airing live on 8TV tomorrow at 5pm.

THE 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert will be aired live from Berjaya Times Square Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur, tomorrow at 5pm. Join your favourite Chinese celebrities and 8TV hosts in the hour-long concert as they celebrate the Mooncake Festival.

Among them are John, Henley, Danny Wan, Orange, Wu Jia Hui, Jet Yi, popular 8TV hosts Gary Yap (8 E-News), Natalie (8 E-News & Go Travel), Ping Ping & Jeffrey (8 Style), Dylan (Double, Triple or Nothing), Rickman, MeiSim, Ken, Orange (Go-Go-Go!), Yoon & Phirence (Ho Chak!) and Desmond (Unveil The Truth). Madonna Hard Candy TV Special (8TV, tomorrow, 10.30am) will feature snippets of interviews with and video clips of the popular diva. Sports fans can catch the delayed telecast of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix race over RTM2 on Sunday at 12.30am. A new programme on parenting – Headstart – debuts tomorrow over ntv7 at 2pm. Those who didn’t have the chance to watch Ramadan special cookshow The 30-Minute Chef and also Hell’s Kitchen Served Raw can watch the programmes over ntv7 on Sunday at 4.30pm and 10.45pm respectively. Local teen movie Kami, will hit the cinemas nationwide on the first day of Hari Raya. Catch The Making of … Kami on Sunday over ntv7 (1.35pm) for a look behind-the-scenes. Full of retro songs by some of the nation’s talented indie bands, the film features Syarul Ezany and Liyana Jasmay as the main cast.


Bollygood Time On 2 (RTM2, 12.30pm) – Speed

Sanjay, an undercover MI5 agent, receives a CD which contains the recording of his kidnapped wife, Urmila, and is asked to follow instructions to ensure his wife’s safety. He realises that he is being used as a weapon to assassinate the Prime Minister of India who is visiting London. Starring Zayed Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Aashish Chaudhary.

Saturday Nite Special (RTM2, 9pm) – Die Hard 2

In their bid to rescue a drug lord, a team of terrorists have seized control of an airport. They have jammed all electrical equipment even the runway lights. The only one who can solve this is in the airport. John McClane, has to act fast as the planes are running low on fuel. Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia and William Atherton.

Panggung Sabtu (TV3, 2pm) – Eklavaya

For nine generations, Eklavaya’s family has protected Devigarh, a centuries-old citadel in Rajasthan. But there’s unrest as peasants are coming under attack because of the king’s brother. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Jackie Shroff.

TV3 Cinema (TV3, 12.30am) – The Rocketeer

Young pilot Cliff Secord stumbles on a top secret rocket-pack and with the help of his mechanic and mentor, Peevee, he attempts to save his girlfriend and stop the Nazis as The Rocketeer. Straight from the pages of a pulp comic, this film recreates Hollywood in the 1930s, complete with gangsters, Nazi spies at the height of the Age of Aviation. Starring Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino.

Hong Movie Saturday (ntv7, 11.50pm) – Sad Movie

Ha-Seok has been unemployed for three years and his girlfriend wants to break off with him. To win her back, Ha-Seok sets up a “separation agency”. Can he save his own relationship by advising other people on how to prevent break-ups? Starring Tae Hyun Cha and Woo Sung Jung.

Chinese Movie (8TV, 8.30pm) – The Lion Roars

The story, set in the Sung Dynasty, is about Liu, a skilled, strong-willed woman and her chance encounter with Chen, a smart and handsome poet. Liu and Chen fall in love but they encounter many obstacles. Starring Cecilia Cheung and Louis Koo.


Sunday Day Time Special (RTM2, 3pm) – Baltic Storm

A journalist with a leading German television magazine in Berlin is trying to get a scoop on a military black market arms deal. Starring Greta Scacchi, Jurgen Prochnow and Donald Sutherland.

New Straits Times

Size Me Up!

7 Sep

Size me up!

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Myths mirror reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Life is following the course of nature’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make your life worth living

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

Life is not a railway track

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

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

Don’t try to fix life

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

Life is precious, live it

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

Look at the moon directly

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

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/

I’m not the roses and chocolates kinda guy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What not to wear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Merry go round
By Ayush Maheshwari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can email your experiences to

Smoke Alaram
By Raghava KK and Netra Srikanth

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

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

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

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

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

Designer’s studio

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

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

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

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

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

By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blu-ray Superior

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

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

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

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

Matrimony on the move

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I’ve always been ambitious’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanjay plans a dream home for Manyata

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

Deepika says ‘no’ to harman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explaining England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should one imitate others?
By Sunil K. Poolani

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

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

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

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

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

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

But is it not a passing phase?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

‘Ghalib is my eternal special’

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

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

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

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

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

Opera extraordinaire
By Christine Pemberton

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

Mais oui, c’est possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting there

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

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

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

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

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

Penguins & parties in Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Senjam Raj Sekhar

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

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

Some questions from Dilli quiz are excerpted here.

Dilli Quiz – Kutub Quizzers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dilli Quiz – Kutub Quizzers

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

 Features of the Week

Deccan Chronicle

Food For TRPs

23 Aug

Food for TRPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shilpa sizzles in Bigg Boss season 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q How was the experience of anchoring Waar Pariwaar?

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

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

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

Q It means anchoring is more difficult than judging?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q Which are your forthcoming films?

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

Lack of innovation fails reality shows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. L. C

Shah Rukh in a double role?

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

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

Saif keen to host TV show

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

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

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

A unique, gripping tale of friendship

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

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

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

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

Sanober flees from show

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

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

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

Monsoon blues hit actors

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

Telly rivalry moves to films

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

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

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

Namrata turns to television

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

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

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

Onscreen chemistry may not be real

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

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

Smriti plans Gandhi series

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

Salman Khan gets TV offers from Abroad

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

Mouli’s back with Aathwan Vachan

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

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

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

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

(Snippets by A.L.Chougule)

‘I like to shop abroad’

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

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

Shabana’s presence intimidates participants

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

Young talent hit the right notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Song

Film: Bachna Ae Haseeno

Khuda Jaane

Sajde mein yun hi jhukta hoon Tum pe hi aa ke rukta hoon Kya yeh sab ko hota hai

Hum ko kya lena hai sab se Tum se hi sab batein ab se Ban gaye ho tum meri dua

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

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

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

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

Mom’s mutton chops are the best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Malaysia I had the best exotic Chinese dinner.

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

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

Bift canteen puffs a hit

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

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

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

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

Monsoon Delights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starry night

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

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


 Features of the Week



Deccan Chronicle


12 Jul

 Cast Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Manisha Koirala

Director: Afzal Khan

This is the way we used to make a million movies: a song stuffed into a loud plot every five minutes, a heroine who’s willing to be humiliated if it means marriage to the man who loses no opportunity to insult her, and two heroes: the bad-good guy, and the good-good guy.

In Afzal Khan’s ‘Mehbooba’, released nearly seven years after it began, straight-laced Manisha rolls over for billionaire playboy Sanjay, once he holds out that ultimate weapon-his ‘maa ke kangan’ (no true-blue Bollywood heroine used to be able to resist these, remember?) She dons a red chiffon sari, and gets all drenched-in-the-rain on a New York apartment terrace; Sanjay reveals all too, in a black singlet, and sheets are left rumpled.

Of course, all that was a hoax, meant only to add a new scalp on the rich guy’s well – studded belt. Manisha retires to lick her wounds in Budapest, where she bumps into Ajay. And, what do you know, Manisha’s the very girl who’s been haunting his dreams for a long time. Surprise. So he woos her, helps her forget the scars of her past, and fetches her to his Rajasthan haveli, where ‘ma-saa’ and her brood is waiting. As well as, surprise, surprise, bade bhaiya, Sanjay.

If you want to know who gets her, you’ll have to wait till the very end of this endless pile of clich
s. Continuing in the tradition of the bad old days, one of the guys has got to die. Seeing Ajay and Manisha in Budapest puts you in the mind of ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, in which they discovered they were each other’s true love: clearly, Afzal Khan was deeply influenced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film before he began his.

Who let this dog out?

The Indian Express