This weekend is all about paintings, photographs and puppets. Plus, join Alliance Française’s parade
Walk of support
Join the parade that marks the Alliance Francaise’s 125 years in Pondicherry. It will see participation from students and leading folk singers like Kavitha Gopi and Paul Jacob and will also feature folk dancers. At Maison Colombani, the parade begins today at 4.30 pm, followed by a concert at7 pm. Details: 0413 2334351
Accord Pondicherry has an Arabian food festival underway, featuring dishes like hummus, falafel, sambousa, magluaba, phyllo pastries and basaleya. Only for dinner, this festival goes on till Sunday. The buffet costs Rs. 795 per head . Details: 0413 2299000
Dreams on canvas
Palette Arts and Cultural Association, along with Elements Boutique in Pondicherry, is organising a painting exhibition by Prasanna Gresillon, a Kerala-based artist, who has been living in Pondicherry for over a year. With a leaning towards acrylic and water colours, her collection of paintings is based on dreams. At Suffren Street, Pondicherry. From 9 am to 7pm. Details: 9597395272
DakshinaChitra is organising a puppet festival with troupes from Kolkata, Tripura and Tamil Nadu. Various forms of traditional puppetry and Hindu mythological stories will be presented followed by an interactive session with the troupe members. R Banumathim, an expert on puppetry from Pavai, will conduct the sessions. From today till March 3. Details: 24462435
KK Segar’s solo painting exhibition, organised by Shilpataru is a display of his artworks inspired by the earth’s five elements. This group of Pondicherry-based artists seek to bring art and beauty into daily life. At Promenade. Till March 5, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Details: 0413 2227750
Tibet in the picture
The Pavilion of Tibetan Culture is presenting a photography exhibition by Tom Lamb, an American photographer who specialises in landscape and ethnography. The photographs, under the theme Tibetan Landscape, will be available for purchase. At the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture, Auroville. Till tomorrow, from 4 pm to 6 pm. Details: 0413 2622704
This year’s Oscar nominations for the Best Score, are also presenting a live concert three days before D-day
An organic partnership
Steven Price was only supposed to work on Gravity for three weeks. But after he and director, Alfanso Cuarón, started having conversations about the film and what the music could be, “it just spun out of control,” said Price, adding, “All of a sudden a few weeks had gone by. Then a few more. It almost sounds right out of The Money Pit. And after about six weeks, Cuarón sat me down and asked if I wanted to come on board as the film’s composer.” He’d only scored a handful of films before this, including The World’s End and Attack the Block. But the UK native has been aiming for this opportunity since he was 21. “I’ve always wanted to be a composer, and it’s just taken me 16 years to work my way through the ranks, really,” he said.
Oscar-nominated William Butler’s first-time experience composing the score for Spike Jonze’s Her, with his partner Owen Pallett, was a bit of a romance as well as a crash course in moviemaking. Butler says the experience opened him up to the collaborative process, which also paid off on their latest album, Reflektor. “Because we’re very much our own bosses and working on something where you had to defer to the director and see it through his eyes, it was a great musical challenge that you could apply to everything else,’’ Butler admits.
Starting from the end
Having been nominated six times in eight years, composer Alexandre Desplat is a veteran of Academy campaigning. He called his latest Oscar-nominated work, the score for Philomena, among his most difficult assignments. In fact the movie had more music than his first Oscar-nominated film, The Queen. Unlike other composers, Desplat prefers to see the finished film before he begins working, rather than starting from the script. “I like to see the images. That’s what turns me on, that’s when the inspiration can start getting somewhere. Before you’ve seen the camera moves, the light, the pace of the direction and the performances of the actors, it’s just ink and paper,” he says.
Five and counting
One of the most famous composers in film history, John Williams is a five-time Oscar winner for Best Score and a 48-time nominee overall, which makes him the second most nominated individual in Oscar history, after Walt Disney. And for all you know, the man might win it this time as well for composing the score for The Book Thief, an American-German war drama based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak.
Walt Disney, the legendary Hollywood producer is the subject of Saving Mr Banks, a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. The film features a score composed by Thomas Newman, which has been nominated. Despite multiple nominations— he’s got the nod 11 times— he’s not won an Oscars till date. His last nomination was for last year’s Skyfall.
Dallas Buyers Club Director: Jean-Marc Vallee Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Set in 1986, where Matthew McConaughey stars as AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggles unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas. He distributes them to fellow sufferers by establishing the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ even while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opposes him. Did you know? The director initially wanted Leto’s character to be like Marc Bolan, glam rock-inspired, to which Leto said ‘no’.
Mr Peabody & Sherman Director: Rob Minkoff Cast: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert
Peabody, who happens to be a business giant, inventor and two-time Olympic medallist, is a dog. He sets out on an adventure with his adopted boy, Sherman, with his new invented WABAC time machine. The mischievous Sherman breaks the rules of time travelling and they both face many problems to save the future. Did you know? Minkoff made The Lion King 20 years ago and had recently said, “When we did Lion King, it was all drawn and now we use computers to do the work. The fact that we are building these three dimensional worlds within the computer is the biggest difference.’’
Shaadi Ke Side Effects Director: Saket Chaudhary Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan
Farhan Akhtar plays the role of confused Sid from the prequel Pyar Ke Side Effects, which was essayed by Rahul Bose. Vidya Balan plays Trisha, a sweet and bubbly girl. This time, the two of them find love after marriage. The romantic comedy takes you through their life post marriage, parenthood and how they deal with it. Did you know? Vidya Balan sat with the costume designers and gave them her inputs for her look in this movie. She worked towards finding the perfect balance between modern and conventional styles.
Liam Neeson addresses the fear of flying and the realistic action showcased in his latest film, Non-Stop
One of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, Irish actor Liam Neeson originally wanted to be a teacher. At 61, Neeson says he is ‘a wee bit embarrassed’ to be an action star, yet he keeps making action films like Taken and Darkman not for the money, but because it helps him avoid wallowing in sadness after the death of his wife, Natasha Richardson. It’s only recently that the actor has begun to talk publicly about Richardson, who died in 2009 in a skiing accident in Canada. Neeson will be seen in Non-Stop, Jaume Collet-Serra’s next – which is about an air marshal who springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk. Read on:
Non-Stop has an entire sequence in a plane. Why is an airplane the perfect setting for a thriller?
It is, isn’t it? Because everybody is locked in together at 30,000 feet up in the air and we can all relate to that. Everybody in the world! Because everybody in the world seems to fly these days, you know.
This film perfectly plays with all our fears. How doesit do that?
Well, for a start unless you’re a physicist, how does that big chunk of metal get up in the air? I kind of know the physics of that, but how does it stay up there? I don’t know. When I went to university, I studied physics and a little bit of mathematics and I still can’t figure it out. So we immediately have a little fear there you know — when we step on to that airplane.
What goes into your action sequences?
I’ve done a little mongrel version of different fight sequence for years, depending on what the action is in the film. In this one, we didn’t want to adopt martial arts. It’s so corny. Whatever physical altercations happened on the airplane we wanted to make them real. I worked quite closely with the special forces guy that trains air marshals. We came up with the fight in the bathroom based on stuff that he was trained to do himself in very close combat situations, like what you would do to disarm someone. We tried to keep that real and exciting, too.
You must have learned a lot of new skills from your movies.
You learn and then you forget about it. It’s like learning a dance — you learn it for the scene or studying for exams. Then the exam’s over and you’ve forgotten half of it. Except for the lightsaber. I know how to handle that.
How do you play into stereotyping with this movie?
I think Jaume Collet-Serra (director) played with that in our own heads, too. There’s the Muslim doctor. You go, “Uh-huh. Yeah, this is interesting.” But it’s not going to be him. It’s not going to be the other African American kid that we think, “Definitely, this guy’s got a real attitude.” So he plays with all that.
Your views on playing the protagonist.
You know it’s an interesting thing, this idea. What makes a hero? What makes somebody suddenly; stand out from the crowd and do something that they never planned on doing. Not for their own glory, not for their own ego but because they just do. I still find that fascinating.
The movie is scheduled to release today.
Besides two film projects, actress Chitrangda Singh will be supporting the cause of saving tigers this year
AFTER a dream start with Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Chitrangda Singh has gone on to do movies like Desi Boyz, Inkaar and I, Me Aur Main. She calls herself a nomad at heart and loves river rafting and sky diving, when not busy with movie schedules in Mumbai. Recently, Animal Planet roped in Abhay Deol and Singh as the brand ambassadors for their show, Where Tigers Rule. The duo will create awareness about the threats affecting the survival of tigers We got talking to Singh about her latest projects:
As an actor I am greedy and want to be part of good cinema. I enjoy watching my contemporaries work and would love to be part of movies like Omkara, Gulaab Gang and Dedh Ishiya which have a lot of focus on women.
A lot of genres that come along are thrillers and revenge-based movies. But I want to do movies that have something in it for me. A pretentious script is no good. At the same time, a good comedy or a period film will be very exciting.
From the current crop of directors, I would like to work with Vikas Bahl, who is doing Queen, and Sujoy Ghosh.
I am more than an animal lover. I remember when I went on a vacation with my friends and family to Kanha, we found tiger footprints and we followed it all the way to the river. I have loved animals right from my childhood.
I love spending time with my family and travelling. I like Dubai for its shopping and Bali for its beaches.
Mylapore’s 200-year-old Luz House is getting a lick of paint and a new lease of life as a yoga centre and boutique hotel
Hidden behind a garage and a petrol bunk on Luz Church Road in Mylapore, this is a building that harks back to Chennai’s Dutch Colonial past. The white villa, with its colonnaded verandah and high ceilings, is straight out of the history books and, until now, stood forgotten. “Luz House was a part of the grounds purchased by my ancestors in Mylapore in the 1770s. It was not so much a house as part of the barracks for the Portuguese armed forces. In the 1850s, my grandfather renovated it to create a women’s zanana,” says Buchi Prakash, the son of renowned cricketer Buchi Babu, as he talks about his plans to open a yoga centre (to start on March 15) and a boutique hotel in his ancestral home.
Luz house now
Designed for yoga
Over the centuries, the Luz House (Luz means light in Spanish) has seen a lot—generations of the family walking its oxide floors, playing tennis on its courts, and feeding horses in its stables. It has also withstood a lot—from storms and wars to demolition and restoration. Then it fell into disuse. Now, after years of mortar crumbling in silence, the house is getting a makeover. “We wanted to restore it to its former glory and utilise the space for something that blends harmoniously with its history,” says Prakash’s son, Abhimanyu Prakashrao. “When my wife Ishani and I heard that 136.1 Yoga was looking for a space to expand its business, we approached them. And it just clicked,” he shares.
Currently work is underway for the yoga centre. Yashwant Saran, the managing director of 136.1 Yoga Studio, is excited about the project. “Imagine the ancient 5,000-year-old tradition of yoga being practised, with a modern approach to service, in an ancient house that’s over 200 years old. We are plain lucky to have this space,” he says.
The restoration work is being overseen by renowned city-based conservation architect, K Kalpana. “The house is a beautiful example of our Dutch East India past. However, new structures were added to it and I didn’t want to do a reversal because it could damage its core. Instead, I am working on highlighting its old-world charm—like the Madras terrace roof with teak wood supports, the large halls with its thick mud-mortar walls, and its tall windows and doors,” she says. Later additions to the house were its red oxide floors, a staple of the 1920s, the salon doors partitioning the long hallway and the porch that juts out into the garden.“In its day, Luz House had a lot of large open spaces with archways connecting them, which were subsequently closed off. We are planning to reopen them,” adds Prakashrao.
After the yoga centre opens its doors, phase two will kick off—to renovate the back of the house into a boutique hotel. “I’ve suggested that they build an extra floor—keeping the same pantile roof—and create 10 rooms. Once that is done, we’ll figure out what kind of feel to give the interiors: Dutch, French or Indian,” says Kalpana, while Prakashrao assures us, “All the furniture sourced for the hotel will reflect the character and age of the building.” Also on the blueprint: an organic counter, a cafe, a library and a small museum dedicated to Buchi Babu and his family’s achievement in sports over the years (Prakash and Prakashrao are both polo enthusiasts). Details: 9840775062
When 20-somethings kick-start a political dialogue among the urban youth
At an age when most boys his age are thinking about girls, cars and high-paying jobs, 22-year-old Anirudh Belle is on a mission—to make his peers more politically aware. “There is a deficit between the consciousness of the average voter and their awareness of public policy issues. Our focus is on the urban youth primarily because they don’t usually vote and are not registered on electoral rolls,” says Belle, who is doing his final year B A Economics at Loyola College.
An internship in 2013 with senior Congressman Dr Rajeev Gowda in Bangalore (where he helped to get the youth involved in Gowda’s Lok Sabha election campaign) made Belle realise that “young people my age respond to causes far more easily when it is presented to them in their own language.” Thus was born You Speak India (YSI), on August 15 last year—an initiative to encourage youngsters to cast an informed ballot. Belle is its founder and editor in chief.
With a core team of 10 like-minded people, YSI has many ideas to spread awareness—like What’s Brewin’?, a monthly two-hour event where panellists (chosen based on the theme of discussion) and youngsters will discuss political issues at youth haunts. The first session, on February 16, was a success with 54 participants interacting with the likes of Indian National Congress’ national spokesperson C R Kesavan, Lok Satta Party member Elizabeth Seshadri and activist-cum-journalist Nityanand Jayraman.
The next stop for What’s Brewin’? and YSI (who is developing a larger, city-specific team) is Mumbai, in time to get ready for the 2015 Assembly Elections. Also on the cards are ‘Rock The Vote’—an event that will get bands (or DJs) with youth appeal to perform in various cities, where Election Commission of India stands will be put up, to encourage young people to register—and city-wise ‘Run for India Marathon’, held with the same objective.
What’s Brewin’? will be held at various venues. Registration: Rs. 200-Rs. 250. Details: youspeakindia.org
Wine trainer Dominique Besnard talks about Indian oenophiles and his personal favourites at our wineries
The story behind his marriage could inspire a Bollywood movie, Dominique Besnard tells us, as we sit down for a chat at the Coffee Day Square in Nungambakkam. But first, we exchange cards and I almost successfully manage to pronounce the French moniker he consults under — Vive Le vin. “She was a PhD student of history and we met in France,” he exclaims, telling me about Kamakshi, his wife, who hails from Lucknow. Just like in the movies, they fell in love, were married and are now back in Chennai 20 years later, so that their young children can learn about their Indian heritage.
Taking up the bottle
The odd thing, though, is that Besnard, a wine consultant and trainer, hails from a part of France that is not known for its wines. “I am from Arras in the North of France, where there are no vineyards. There are only beer drinkers there,” he laughs. It was through his father, who stocked bottles from places like Burgundy and Bordeaux, that Besnard was introduced to wines. Initially working in the field of human resources, he became a wine consultant in Paris after a stint at Institut Jules Guyot in Dijon. After six months in Chennai, Besnard agrees that being a wine drinker here, with our taxes, can be a challenge, when compared to a city like Bangalore, where he lived for a year. That said, the clientele at his sessions in the city are a mix of expats and Indians, in their 30s to 40. He finds that a lot of women are curious to learn about wines, especially those who are not open to drinking spirits.
Know your grape
“The sauvignon from Sula and the shiraz from Zampa are very good,” he informs, when asked to share his critical opinion of our grapes. He feels that our whites are better than our reds and, having done the equivalent of a thesis on the wine industry in India, he can more than hold his own in a conversation about the same. Awareness about wines is yet to spread in Chennai, he feels, citing the example of how wines are stored on open shelves in TASMACs. This could result in the wines going bad because of the heat. So even if there are just a couple of guests who are new to wine at a session, he spends at least 15 minutes on the basics. “In a glass of wine, there’s flavour, aroma, the story of a place and person — so much to take in,” he shares, adding, “When you have the basic knowledge, then you can start appreciating it.” Besnard organises sessions at The Leela Palace, Taj Gateway, and at clients’ homes, and even does sessions in French. “It is important to go step by step and choose your wines according to your taste and budget,” concludes Besnard, who is also a fan of single malts and our “Old Monk.”
Besnard’s next session, on French wines, takes place at Taj Gateway on March 1. At Rs. 2,000 per person. Details: 9789944094
A handful of Tamil films are scheduled to release this Friday. One of them is Kadhal Solla Aasai. Directed by debutant Thamizh Seenu (a participant of the Naalaya Iyakkunar TV show), the romantic tale has Ashok and Madhu in the lead. Ashok, who has already worked in three films, is yet to establish himself as a successful hero. Hopefully, this film will be a career changer for the talented choreographer-turned-actor.
Telling it true
Vadivel, a former assistant of Mysskin, is wielding the microphone for Kallapadam, a film set against the backdrop of the film industry. “It’s a light-hearted film that delves into the lives of film technicians,” says the director. While Vadivel essays the role of a film director, the cast also includes other technicians who essay their respective real-life professions in the film. The actor-cum-director has also got Mysskin to pen and croon a song for Kallapadam. It seems to be an interesting project in the making.
After her promising debut in Thiru Thiru Thriu (and later in Naan), Rupa Manjari was busy with her Malayalam assignments. Two years on, Manjari is all set for her second innings in Tamil films. On the anvil is Sivappu with Naveen Chandra, and Yaamirukka Bayamein with Krishna. With both films releasing this year, the future promises to be rewarding for this chirpy actress.
Featuring 80s-style monster cans and wireless receivers, Harman Kardon chooses Chennai to make a debut
ABOUT eight years ago, when Danish superbrand, Bang & Olufsen, opened a store in Chennai, it was cause for celebration. After the Bose showroom, this was where a lot of enthusiasts headed for their high-end audio fix. B&O said they chose Chennai for its audiophiles and because it afforded a good testing ground before setting shop elsewhere in the country. It’s a different matter that the store no longer exists in the city.
And now we have another luxe sound company, Harman Kardon, making its Indian debut in Chennai. Sahil International, Harman’s exclusive distributor in the country, launched the ‘sound lounge’ at Bergamo in Khader Nawaz Khan a couple of weeks ago, but have not shared why this city was selected. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of HK Soundsticks, receivers and home theatre systems, you know exactly where to go splurge. The compact store has all the best sellers. Plus customers get a Diamond Club loyalty card, offering special customer service and rewards. As for the our pick of the shiny new gadgets, here goes:
HK Soho headphones
The Harman Kardon Sohos are easy on the eye, especially the brown option, and a neat companion on long-haul flights. The compact retro on-ear model folds up and offers a good audio performance. The headphone cord is detachable and it can be used to make calls as well. It comes with a slim case, perfect for travel. Rs. 14,990
A good on-the-road accessory, this Bluetooth speaker is a slim block in aluminium and leather. It also serves as a portable conference system and comes with the uncompromising Harman Kardon sound. With 10 hours of battery, this baby’s made for your holidays and the boardroom. There is a noise-canceling mic and three USB ports too. Rs. 19,990
Echoing the iconic Go & Play design, with a built-in battery, this portable speaker comes with a leathered back and a convenient carry-handle. With controls at the top of the speaker that light up when touched, it delivers a punchy bass and makes quite a home décor statement. `39,990. Meanwhile, the store also has its much-in-demand amplifiers, 3D player with built-in amp, and the beautiful Aura wireless speaker system. The Sound Bar with woofers, at Rs. 99,990, is just what you need if you detest clutter and favour something light (4.8 kg) for your home theatre.
The Harman Kardon sound lounge, at Bergamo, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, is open from 10.30 am to 8.30 pm. Details: 42013788
why some Yamaha YZF-R3 owners may have to take their bikes...
legendary Martin Scorsese opens up about his latest film, future projects...