An underwater workshop, and an Android app class—this weekend is all about learning something new
Warm water therapy
Quiet Healing Centre in Auroville is organising an intermediate course for adults that will teach them Ai Chi—a water movement and relaxation programme in water and Liquid Flow essence, aquatic bodywork in warm water. The course will be conducted by Dariya and Daniel. At Quiet Healing Center, Auroville, till February 5, from 9 am onwards. Details: 9488084966
Lilith Fashion School in Pondicherry is organising a two-day event to showcase the latest fashion creations, drawings and designs of students. Pizzas, snacks, juices and tea will be available. At the Unity Pavilion, tomorrow, from 6 pm onwards. Free entry. Details: 9786236608
Learn more about the Android app at the one day international workshop, Iwaad 2014. Organised by Pondicherry University, this workshop helps students learn more about the development and programing of the software. Snacks and lunch tokens and stationery will be provided. At Pondicherry University, tomorrow, from 9 am to 5pm. Participation fee for students starts from Rs 200. Details: techevent.in
Auroville is organising an exhibition by Pondicherry-based Kranti Cheon, who specialises in oil painting. The exhibition is based on the theme Indian Divinity and the works include Saraswati in the Forest, The Radha Krishna Leela and more. At the Tibetan Pavillion, today, from 9 am onwards. Details: 0413 2622571
Yoga Nadopasana, in Auroville is organising singing classes that stress on meditation and voice modulation. Taught by Bruno Rocca-gardella from Pondicherry, the classes focus on the discovery of sounds through the scale of chakras and carnatic raagas like Bhairav. Details: 9787637893
DakshinaChitra is organising a one-day workshop for children called Penny Wise— Mint Your Own Coins (coins of Chola and Pallava Period). The workshop will cover topics like the history of the coins and how the barter system was substituted by coins in trading. At DakshinaChitra. Details: 24918943
Anil Srinivasan takes his grand piano to the Madras Riding School
We have heard of concerts in bizarre places, like gigs in the Thames Tunnel Shaft, the Cinema Museum in Kennington, and Sofar Sounds—secret concerts held in the living rooms of London musicians. Our city joins the bandwagon this weekend with Hisham Osman, of Silkworm Boutique, organising an unusual piano performance. The Madras Riding School, which has been around for more than 45 years, sees around 200 people every day at 5.30 am, but this Sunday there will be more, as Anil Srinivasan will be playing the grand piano in the stables. “I’ve been organising cultural events for the past two years. The first was with pianist Anil Srinivasan at Spaces (in Besant Nagar) and the second was a dance performance by Dhriti Vaidyanathan from Singapore and Kiran Rajagopalan from New York, again at Spaces. This time I wanted to do something different and, since I’ve been riding for five years, I thought I’d collaborate with the riding school,” says Osman, who owns a horse named Elite Empire.
Though Osman is not a musician, he enjoys organising cultural events. “I have no background in music. I met Srinivasan in 2011 through a friend and we started working together on events,” says the retailer who is supported by Shaun D’Sa for design, Venu Srinivasan from Leo Coffee and Vikram Umapathi of Vurn, who is into sustainable dinner sets. The event will include breakfast. “There will be dosa, rava khichdi, pineapple kesari and vada. I get the food from Sangeetha, a restaurant I’ve been visiting since college.”
Spark of crazy
According to Srinivasan, the entire idea was crazy, initially. “I thought Osman must be crazy asking me to perform in a stable. But when I went there, it was beautiful. There are around 150 horses and the place is classy with an old-world look,” says the musician, who will be performing for an hour. “Expect Indian and Western music in a new repertoire. I am doing this concert out of curiosity, to find out how this will go. As a pianist, I have the constant need to present uniquely and this will be perfect,” says Srinivasan who, incidentally, is petrified of horses.
At The Madras Riding School, on Sunday, from 7.30 am. Passes available at Silkworm. Details: 9841018191
(From left) Ashwin Shekhar, Arulnidhi and S P Jananathan
Seven-year itch Ashwin Shekher debuted seven years ago with Vegam. Now he’s back with his second film, Ninaivil Nindraval. Why the long gap? “No suitable roles came my way,” says Shekher candidly, adding that the film’s plot is centred on mercy killing and offered him a role that is different and challenging. Vegam, which will release soon, is the debut work of director Agasthya Bharathi, who passed away during the film’s making.
Arulnidhi is eagerly awaiting his next release, Oru Kanniyum Moondru Kalavanigalum. While his last film, Thagararu, was an action-oriented one, this film is a comic caper. “I’ve tried my hand at comedy for the first time and I hope it will work,” says the actor. Directed by Chimbudevan, the film sees Arulnidhi sharing frames with Bindhu Madhavi and Arshita.
Port of call
Iyarkai was director S P Jananathan’s debut directorial venture, and it went on to snap up the National Award for Best Tamil Feature Film in 2003. The film, which had Shaam and Arun Vijay in the cast, was a love triangle set against a port town. Not only was it aesthetically directed, but it also had a fresh feel to it. Now we’ve found out that the film will soon get a sequel. An interesting venture to wait for, indeed.
The Modern Family star on being sexy at 41, accents and the fear of HD
As GLORIA in Modern Family, the feisty woman from Colombia married to the family patriarch, Jay Pritchett, Sofia Vergara is hard to ignore. The former Victoria’s Secret angel has won the Screen Actors Guild Awards for best performance, both in 2010 and 2011, and this year at the Golden Globe Awards, she was nominated for the best actress in a supporting role (Modern Family). Recently seen in John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo and the action comedy, Machete Kills, Vergara always makes an impact on the red carpet, rocks talk shows and is popular with the tabloids. The star, who thinks she is lucky to look great at 41, will soon be seen in Heat, a movie directed by Simon West. Known for her quirks — like sleeping with her socks on, for instance, or sharing her bikini photos online —Vergara says she is enjoying this phase of her life and is in no hurry to get married to her fiance of over a year, Nick Loeb. The actor, who can be sexy and funny at the same time, tells us more about herself:
What do you splurge on?
Trips, my son (Manolo, 21), shoes, bags, jewellery, everything.
You look fantastic at 41. Do you feel pressure about being photographed all the time?
With high-definition television, it’s like, ‘Why?’ Somebody has to stop this torture. High-definition should be, like, for Animal Planet. You don’t want to see the imperfections.
Do people on TV want you to enhance your accent?
When I started acting, I thought I could, like, get rid of it. I’m like, ‘I don’t understand why actresses like Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek haven’t fixed their accents.’ I had, like, a coach for many hours, many months… and I was conscious about each word. I was a mess. I’ve never had any training as an actress, so I think what helped me with acting was that I was spontaneous and myself. And I said, ‘I’m going to be there. If they like me, they like me.’ And they liked me. What do you do to stay in shape?
Modern Family season five airs every Thursday on Star World at 8.30 pm
IT is one of the longest running reality shows in India. With the 11th season of Roadies launched last weekend, host and executive producer, Raghu Ram, shares the new format and explains why it isn’t going to end anytime soon:
There will be no vote outs.
‘‘Roadies, on one level, encouraged vote outs, and tasks had become a tool to eliminate contestants. But we wanted to change that and make it purely the consequence of their tasks.”
Rudeness in perspective.
“It hasn’t seemed to me that I’ve crossed the line. At a boxing match you wouldn’t feel that one of the contestants is being a bully just because he is winning. I’ve written about it in my book, Rearview: My Roadies Journey. The only time I’ve felt that I’ve crossed my personal line was during season eight and I have apologised for it.
Heights of bizarre.
“In season eight, contestants were asked to stand nude at a rock concert, to get their portraits done. To add to the embarrassment, the audience were given binoculars.
“Roadies won’t shut down unless a really bad show is telecast and people are absolutely fed up of watching us. As much as I would like to give it a break, I don’t see it happening any time soon.’’
Roadies season 11 airs every Saturday and Sunday at 7 pm, on MTV
With 26 of America’s television shows being aired simultaneously in India since September 2013, you really don’t need torrents to catch up with the latest season of your favourite series. The ‘You see it first’ campaign on Star World Premiere HD saw many shows air their latest seasons like Modern Family and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D along with the US. Plus, we can also look forward to new seasons of shows like Community. We got business head of the Star English Channels in India, Kevin Vaz, to run us through the trends and prime time offerings.
“When shows are aired nearly a month after it is shown in the US, it affects the viewership. Moreover, the Indian viewer has evolved. It doesn’t matter to them that episodes of western shows aren’t aired back-to-back as it is done with Indian ones. So, we decided to start this service for our premium viewers, who are used to getting products like cars or other luxury items as soon as they are released abroad.”
As far as trends are concerned, Vaz sees drama and comedies doing well with the Indian audience. So this year, expect to see new shows like Rake and Bunheads. “Genre-specific channels like Star Movies Action and Romedy Now are the future of television. This enables viewers to choose the kind of content they want to watch,” he adds, insisting that high-definition (HD) television is here to stay. When it comes to new channels, he wants to see how Star Movies Action does before tapping into another genres like drama or comedy.
And how about locally produced shows? “To be honest, the value of production behind western shows is big. But it isn’t so here. So, it is a bit of a risk. We have local talent like Vir Das and Tanmay Bhatt, but I don’t see it happening in the near future. Hopefully, when the time is right,” he concludes.
With changing silhouettes and modern twists, Rta Kapur Chishti turns the spotlight on woven saris
The woven sari is a story of contradictions: ubiquitous yet endangered, ancient yet modern, unstitched yet innovative. And textile scholar Rta Kapur Chishti has made it her life’s mission to spread her passion for the sari. One of the steps in that journey is Saris: Tradition and Beyond, a lecture-demonstration (pegged on her 2010 book of the same name), being organised on February 2 by the Kalakshetra Foundation and sari shop Shilpi.“It will take you on a journey through the 15 states covered in the book, give you insights into what is worn where and why, and the 108 different drapes,” says Chishti.
Though there has been a renaissance of sorts, with designers going back to weavers and trying to resurrect old traditions, Chishti feels production is greatly threatened. “We are still in the stage of imitation — we want what we see in films, in the West. Originality has no value.” And, according to her, the woven sari is the most original of them all. As an unstitched, unstructured garment, it has the capability to constantly reinvent itself. Did you know the five yards of cloth can be converted into dresses, trousers and gowns — all without pins or stitches?
One of the threats that weavers are facing today is the rising popularity of embroidery. While Chishti agrees there is craft in wielding a needle and thread, she feels it can never compare with the complexity of weaving a sari. “It needs the ingenuity of a mathematical genius to weave a beautiful sari.” And despite the support of designers like Abraham & Thakore, with whom she has collaborated, Chishti fears the future. “As saris lose their everyday vitality, they’ll become rare. Value will have to be upscaled. But will people buy saris that cost over a lakh of rupees?” she wonders.
Chishti has taken her passion to save the sari into every medium she possibly can: by writing books, scripting films, founding the Sari School — which makes saris and organises workshops — and even teaming up with the Daksha Sheth Dance Company. The production, Sari, took five years to complete (2005 to 2010) and has been staged a few times (including in Chennai in 2012, as part of the World Crafts Summit), but Chishti wants to up the frequency, sponsorship permitting. “Dance is vibrant and appeals to a larger audience. I think it is the best platform to show the process of how raw material is turned into this wondrous garment,” she says.
At Kalakshetra Foundation, on February 2, from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm. Free entry. Details: 9840792782
Leave your camera behind while on holiday and enlist the services of Dass Kishore instead
We often find ourselves in picturesque spots without a good camera, or worse, not having someone to click a good picture of us. Besides, some people like to enjoy their holiday without a heavy camera around. That’s where Dass Kishore steps in. An IT graduate from the city, Kishore became interested in photography after his grandfather started a studio 20 years ago. Freelancing initially, he soon quit his job to start Blessed Studio in Saligramam, last October.
And he was keen to do something different. “Any studio can provide wedding photography. I wanted to do something unique and that’s when I thought of holiday photography,” says Kishore. As a result of some advertising in Ooty, Vijaymala, a housewife who was holidaying in the hill station with her family, hired his services. “It was different, but fun. We forgot to carry our cameras and luckily that’s when we came across this. Kishore joined us and our pictures were taken,” she recalls.
With a team of 10 working with him (they use Canon DSLRs with a host of lenses) and packages targeting various budgets, customers make bookings about 15 days before their trip. Their packages start from Rs 5,500 plus service tax, with 180 images delivered on a CD. Kishore’s charges are inclusive of an eight-hour session, and customers do not have to pay extra for travel or accommodation for the photographer. “We do not encourage our customers to print photos in order to be eco-friendly. But thanks to social networking sites, people only ask for soft copies. If they insist, we print at Rs 3,500 for an album.” The team is open to shooting at any place in South India, especially hill stations like Ooty and Kodaikanal.
From stardom to lip balms,Parineeti Chopra and Sidharth Malhotratalk about being an odd couple
After a dream debut in Karan Johar’s Student of the Year (SOTY), former model and Delhi boy, Sidharth Malhotra is preparing for his second release next week. He will be seen as one half of an odd couple (with Parineeti Chopra) in Hasee Toh Phasee. Excerpts from an interview with the student who’s ready to graduate to the big league:
Is there more pressure to prove yourself in your second film?
I was a wreck during SOTY because of its sheer scale and the thought that I was doing a Karan Johar film. Being an outsider, the whole experience overwhelmed and distracted me. I feel I was far more focussed and relaxed in my second film. I would like to believe that it is a more well-rounded performance. If I pull off this and my next film (Villain) this year, then I think I will prove my mettle as an actor.
What do you think is the USP of your pairing with Parineeti?
I think our chemistry onscreen works and our director, Vinil Mathew, incorporated what he saw of our personalities into the script. The USP is how two odd people with different characters are so sweet together. Vinil is not portraying us as aspirational, but as two odd characters.
What are you enjoying most about stardom?
This industry gives so much back: you get recognised, feel special, lucky and blessed. It has made me more humble because I was not expecting this. Though it has made me more relaxed, content and happy, I have also become less complacent. Working hard comes with every job and I have to live up to my launch, which I am prepared to do.
What is the downside of fame?
You get less and less time for yourself and have more pressure to perform as a human being because you have to be nice to everyone — from a stranger on the road to a big director. You have to be careful not to offend anyone, and perform even when the camera is off.
— Udita Jhunjhunwala
She’s shrugged off the tag of being Priyanka Chopra’s cousin, and is now a sought-after actor in her own right. Parineeti Chopra—who debuted with the 2011 romantic comedy, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl—has her hands full this year with three big releases. She talks about co-star Sidharth Malhotra, her contemporary Alia Bhatt, and the pitfalls of stardom:
Tell us about your role in Hasee Toh Phasee.
I play an exciting role—that of a mad, quirky scientist named Meeta Solanki. She is brilliant and intelligent, but she is mentally off. It was interesting to play this role because we haven’t done a scientist for a long time in Bollywood.
You are constantly compared to Alia Bhatt.
I don’t think people should compare us at all. She has done just one film and she is going to do some tremendous work now. I predict she’ll be one of the biggest stars in the industry.
Tell us something we don’t know about Sidharth Malhotra.
He uses way too much lip balm. I got along really well with him because I use a lot of lip balm, too (laughs). On a serious note, he is a very nice person, very chivalrous, and a great actor to work with.
Who is your inspiration?
There is no one. I like to use my brains for everything and not follow anyone specific.
Tell us about your upcoming movies?
After Hasee Tho Phasee, I have Daawat-e-Ishq with Aditya Roy Kapoor, and Kill Dill with Ranveer Singh.
What are the pitfalls of stardom?
Other than your privacy going for a toss, stardom is a great thing to have. Who does not mind having the spotlight on them all the time!
How are you with social networking?
I am pretty active on Twitter to keep my fans updated about my roles. But people are constantly talking about your clothes or what you said, and this tends to affect a person physically and mentally.
Hasee Toh Phasee is scheduled to release on February 7.
What you need to know about 12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor and why he almost passed up the project
CRITICS and co-stars alike laud British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as an “actor’s actor.” A theatre artiste, who made a name for Critics and co-stars alike laud British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as an “actor’s actor”. A theatre artiste, who made a name for himself playing the lead in Bloomsbury Theatre’s Othello in 1995, Ejiofor made his television debut with the film Deadly Voyage. He then moved to the big screen with Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. The 36-year-old is now part of Hollywood’s A-list after his Oscar-nominated performance in 12 Years A Slave—where he plays Solomon Northup, a free man and an avid violinist, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841 Louisiana. “It’s been the most extraordinary experience as an actor and probably as a person. To be in such close contact with Solomon Northup and his journey has been a remarkable experience. I was so moved to meet his descendents when they came to see the film,” he says.
Ejiofor says he will always be grateful for the role. “It was complex and there were a lot of elements to it. But more than being difficult, it was a privilege.” Talking about the buzz that the movie has been generating, he says, the warmth and the reception has been amazing. ‘‘But still, there is that funny thing about hype that makes your instincts say, ‘I don’t want people to pay that much attention to it.’ I would say to anybody watching it, just make up your own mind about it. I think it’s all about a kind of balance. It’s great that the film is receiving the attention that it’s receiving. But at the same time,the heartbeat is a bit quieter and meditative—it’s about a man’s journey through this incredible time, so in way, it’s a double-edged thing,” he says.
Ejiofor admits that playing a character that existed in real life gave him pause, initially. “There was a 24-hour period where I wasn’t really sure because I thought it was a huge responsibility to get involved with,” says Ejiofor. “I didn’t know if I was up to it, there were all these voices in my head. But then, you’ve just got to squeeze the life out of these voices, or at least try to shrink them. I managed to do that and said, ‘I want to be in it.’ From that point on, (director) Steve (McQueen) and I were just 100 per cent off to the races.” And though the movie focuses on slavery, Ejiofor tells us how it also has an international appeal. “By definition, there’s an international element even to American slavery, because the slaves weren’t from America. I learned about (slavery) in terms of Africa, West Indies, Britain, and America. So I always had that in my head. Even though 97 per cent of the people involved in this movie are Americans, there is an element of something international about it,” he says
12 Years A Slave has had a great impact on viewers. And, Ejiofor admits, on him too. “When I first read the script and then the book, I found it devastating. It was heartbreaking to look behind the curtain of that period in history. This story really does put you in Solomon’s mindset, so that you start to understand what he was going through and what he was witnessing. I really began to feel what this kind of emotional journey would mean to someone. After that, it was impossible to lose it. It penetrated me to the point that I still feel it. It’s quite a thing.”