Daily Archives: Oct 10, 2014
From visiting Bollywood sets to going backstage at a Kathakali performance, Silk Route Escapes gives guests offbeat and luxe experiences
In a couple of months, when Juliana Fraccaro, a fashion designer from Madrid, flies down to India to tour Rajasthan, Mumbai, Goa and Kerala, she wona��t be doing the well-trodden circuit of Gateway of India, Ayurvedic massages and other touristy mandates. Instead, she will be following a bespoke itinerarya��like meeting local designers, catching up with indigenous craftsmen, and discovering places to source interesting material. Thata��s the speciality of Silk Route Escapes, an experiential luxury travel outfitter. a�?Every bit of our tour packages are custom-crafted. We combine luxurious accommodations with cultural expertise, and we pride ourselves on being the best people for the unusual and the offbeat,a�? says Maneesha Panicker, the founder, explaining that they have an exclusive network of artists, designers, art historians, yoga practitioners and others who will spend an afternoon with their guests, giving them a first-hand look at what they do.
While the company was registered just a few months ago, Panicker has been organising tours since 2008. a�?I was working in New York as a manager (packaging) with Estee Lauder, but I wanted to do something that would let me divide my time between NYC and Kerala. And travel was a passion,a�? says the 35-year-old, who was exposed to offbeat India as a child, when she travelled with her father, the late member of Parliament K Vasudeva Panicker. She reminisces about chanting with Himalayan monks and fishing with tribes in the Nilgiri forests. a�?Immersive travel was almost unheard of back then. So while on a holiday in Kerala, I put together a yoga package (after visiting every ashram, resort and teacher possible) and presented it at Equinox, a high-end fitness club in NYC that I was a member at. Soon there was a line out the door,a�? laughs Panicker, who has a mastera��s in industrial engineering.
Walks and talks
Catering to high-flyers, she admits their Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (art in Gurgaon to a hot-air balloon safari over the Aravalli mountains), Mumbai-Aurangabad (discovering treasure in Chor Bazaar to a wine trail in Nashik) and Kerala tours (spend a day with an elephant and try beachside yoga) are the most popular. a�?We are adding a lot more to our itinerary now, like a walk in Mumbai with a local designer I met recently. She will take you through Lal Bagh, meeting mithawallahs, sampling Bengali thalis and giving access to watch a group of women who make drums for a living,a�? says the entrepreneur who tries to meet all her guests personally and lead at least one of their experiences.
The second edition of the Kochi Biennale, less than two months away, also makes for exciting times for the travel company. a�?Contemporary art is huge in Kerala now. We are planing curated gallery visits, afternoons of conversations with renowned artists, fine arts classes and more,a�? she says.Details: silkrouteescapes.com
Panickera��s latest project is Kayal, a four-room boutique resort at Kakkathuruthu, an island in the Kerala backwaters that is home to 600 families. a�?It will be on the edge of the island. While the resort will have activities like yoga and Ayurveda, the highlight will be the freedom the guests will have to take impromptu bike trips into the village or go canoeing in waters that are free of other tourists (it is away from popular tourist spots and yet just 20 minutes from the city). We are also training the local children to take them on walks and tying up with housewives to give them cooking classes,a�? she explains, adding that guests will be served local food by a chef trained in five-star properties. While two rooms (Rs.7,000 a night during the off season) are already ready for occupation, the other two will be ready by November.
Every trip begins with a one-on-one interaction with the clienta��talking about interests and understanding expectationsa��to create highly-personalised itineraries. While international guests book their own flights, Silk Route Escapes will arrange flight/train/bus tickets for local guests. Chauffeur-driven cars are provided and, for large groups, a guide. Guests are given a mobile phone with a local SIM so the team can provide round-the-clock assistance. Last-minute additions to the itinerary (or cancellations) are also entertained.
When to go
December to April is a great time to visit Kerala. Besides the biennale, ita��s also the time for many temple and cultural festivals. If you are visiting, catch a performance by an all-women Kathakali troupea��from the royal family of Thripunithuraa��in Kochi. Panicker is also planning to concentrate on North Keralaa��with its white beaches, old forts, flavourful food and Theyyam dances.
a��Surya Praphulla Kumar
Make plans for a new shopping destination, ladies night and a tandoor platter. Also squeeze in a workshop
on sustainable development
Le Shell restaurant at Raj Classic Inn has introduced tandoori combos. Their non-vegetarian combo includes machli tikka,A� murgh malai tikka, sheek kebab, with dal makani and butter naan. For vegetarians, there is paneer tikka, veg kebab, with dal makani and butter naan. Priced at Rs.250 and Rs.350. Details: 09849675722
All things good
With the festive season round the corner, Pondicherry has a new address for shopping. Good Things on Thiyagaraja Street has kurtas, patialas, leggings and tops for womena��available in silk and cotton. They also have anarkalis and, according to Nikki Prem, the owner, a�?a�?dark colours work well with a lot of embroidery done on them.a��a�� Also look out for their self prints and the indigo collection. From Rs.499 onwards. Details: 0413 2336222
Shake a leg
Planning a girlsa�� night out? La Promenade is hosting a Ladies Night this Wednesday, with DJ Jesse Fox-Allen performing some new disco and retro numbers. Enjoy complimentary drinks and freshly baked munchies. From 6.30 pm onwards. Details: 0413 222 7750
Sculpt and dance
After hosting Salt: The Great March, a painting exhibition by Jyoti Shelly for Gandhi Jayanthi, DakshinaChitra is having a glass sculpting workshop today. Next week (October 18) will see a Bharatnatyam performance by Vanishree Ravishankar
of Natya Samarpanam. The workshop is priced at Rs.2,500. Also, there is an exhibition by S Arunagiri, whose figurative works are based on Indian mythology, temple motifs and religious icons. Till October 31. Details: 27472603
Catch a photo exhibition by JA�rA�mie Lusseau, a former volunteer with the France Volontaires in Hanoi, at the Alliance Francaise, till October 24. At Maison Colombani, Lusseaua��s work includes volunteers photographed in seven countries. Details: pondichery.afindia.org
Understand sustainable approaches to building homes with a three-day workshop at Auroville. This workshop will see interactive sessions and site visits based on broad themes of planning and design, green building material, energy management, integrated water management, waste management and landscaping. From October 15 to 18, from 9 am onwards. Details: 8940219725
a�� Team Indulge
Offering basic amenities, meeting facilities and a 24-hour restaurant and bar, Ibis opens on the OMR
Whoever said good things came at a price, got it all wrong. French group Accora��s economy brand, Ibis, has opened its doors on the OMR, offering world-class amenities at affordable rates, and the IT companies in SIPCOT and travellers enroute to/from Pondicherry stand to reap the benefits. Located just behind Novotel (the groupa��s midscale brand), Ibis encourages you to count your dollars with placards like the ones at the lobby-level restaurant and bar, that point out a `100 saving if you take away to your room, instead of ordering room service. Spice It, their 24-hour restaurant, and The Hub, their bar, share space with a web corner at the lobby level that offers free internet, but for 15-minute sessions only. The upper ground floor sports a gym with all the basics in place (treadmills, weights, etca��there are no instructors or swimming pool at Ibis) and also houses three meeting rooms, with a pre-event area for buffets.
Ibis offers just one category of room, with a choice of twin bed or queen bed, and complimentary WiFi at 512kbps. Cozy at 17.8 sq mts, the rooms come with the view of a neighbouring mango groove and basic amenities like a TV, mini-fridge (no mini-bar here) and writing desk. A highlight is their unique UBRs (unified bathroom) imported from China. The completely moulded units, we hear, are no longer in production, and the Ibis in Chennai is among the last hotels in the world to have them. The only sour point is that to press your clothes, you will have to go to the common ironing station on your floor. But considering it offers a great view of the ECR backwaters and The Bay of Bengal, ita��s worth the walk.
Rooms from `3,750 plus tax onwards, with an introductory 25 per cent off. Lunch and dinner buffets at Rs.499 plus tax per head, breakfast (complimentary for room guests) at Rs.299 plus tax. Details: 67444777
a�� Ryan Peppin
A new eatery along the coast puts all things Continental and Indian in a wrap
We FIND a bold mix of ingredients and diverse flavours on the menu at Wrapsody. The restaurant by friends Bidisha Mitra and Asit Pandey, who share a background in finance, aims to offer a�?quick food, with a lot of detail to it.a�? And this is why their location (in the spanking new Shop In A Park complex, after the Akkarai check-post) near Sholingnallur, the IT hub, is an advantage, they insist. While Pandey (from Chandigarh) confesses to having given up prime space near Loyola College for this strategic spot along the ECR, Mitra (from Kolkata) explains that their quick service format is a boon to those seeking gourmet food in a jiffy. To top it all off, Wrapsody, which offers burgers and sandwiches, besides wraps, bakes their bread in-house and has attracted the attention of the expatriate population of the area for the same.
On a roll
From the witty names on the menu, to the meat vs vegetable ratio in the wraps, the duo have paid a lot of attention to Wrapsody. As we munch on our Chennai Special (a spicy chicken wrap of chicken) and The Middle Easterner (peppers and shawarma chicken in a pita pocket), we also note that sauces have been kept to a minimum (just a dash) to let the fresh ingredients shine. Clever wraps like the Pepper Chicken (pepper chicken, pickled onions and mint mayo), Classic British (a large, crunchy fillet of basa topped with mustard sauce) and The Chat Wala (potato and peas samosa with garlic and chilli mayo) ensure that therea��s something for everyone. As for sides, you can take your pick from a list of regular or masala fries, chipotle chicken or garden beans nachos, to name a few.
In addition to focaccia, pita, white and multi-grain breads, you can also take away Wrapsodya��s homemade sauces that include a mustard, spicy mayo, sweet chilli and mint sauce. And dine-in customers who wish to stay away from breads altogether, can choose to substitute the tortilla sheets for an egg white wrap. Another highlight is their list of cupcakesa��red velvet, chocolate, vanilla- – that their baker specialises in. Moist and dense, they compete only with a nutty, chocolate walnut brownie with a ganache topping. Wrapsody also offers a selection of iced and herbal teas (Basilur), with plans to come up with a a�?make your own wrapa�� concept, in the near future.
Wraps from Rs.185 onwards. Breads on order at Rs.125 a loaf.Details: 9884337784
a�� Ryan Peppin
Reasonable Doubt (Crime / Thriller),
HBO Defined, 10 pm
Cast: Samuel L Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Erin Karpluk, Gloria Reuben, Ryan Robbins
District Attorney Mitch Brockdena��s (Dominic Cooper) perfect life is shattered when he hits a man with his car and kills him. Instead of confessing, he tries to cover it up. Things get complicated when Clinton Davis (Samuel L Jackson) is caught with the dead man in his trunk, and Mitch frees him during trial. Cooper spoke to barristers to make sure he portrayed lawyers well.
Bullett Raja (Action),
Star Gold, 1.30 pm
Cast: Saif Ali Khan,
Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Shergill
Raja Mishra (Saif Ali Khan) gatecrashes a wedding where he befriends the bridea��s cousin, Rudra (Jimmy Shergill). When he overhears Lallan (Chunky Pandey) planning to kill everyone at the wedding, he saves them. Meanwhile, Rudraa��s uncle offers them a place in his gang, but they refuse. Instead, they go to jail to escape Lallan. When the uncle is killed, they get out of jail to take vengeance. However, Rudra gets killed. Will Raja be able to carry on alone? All the actors grew moustaches to look the part.
Director: John R Leonetti
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
Life changes after John gifts his pregnant wife Mia and their unborn child, Annabelle, a beautiful and rare vintage doll in a white wedding dress. But the doll turns out to be possessed.
Did you know? The real Annabelle doll was actually a normal-looking Raggedy Ann doll, not the creepy porcelain version seen in the Annabelle movie and The Conjuring.
Director: Navneet Behal
Cast:A� Richa Chadda, Nikhil Dwivedi
Munna (Dwivedi), a kidnapper from Uttar Pradesh, meets Babu (Chadda), a street-smart drug peddler from Delhi. The two meet in jail and how they fall in love forms the story.
Did you know? Actor Salman Khan turned DJ while unveiling a club track from Tamanchey. At the launch, Khan tried being witty and said the team could have invited Big B or Shah Rukh Khan instead of him.
Director: Gary Shore
Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
In this action-horror film, Transylvanian prince Vlad Tepes (Evans) makes a deal with supernatural beings to protect his family and his kingdon. But can he stop himself from succumbing to the evil?
Did you know? In a recent interview, Evans said, a�?a�?Ita��s the untold story of the most famous vampire. I felt I had more freedom and licence to put my own stamp on the story.A� Ia��m playing the human more than the vampire.a��a��
With On The Way to School winning awards, director Pascal Plisson talks about movies on children & influential filmmakers
Director-screenwriter Pascal Plisson believes movies can change peoplea��s lives. Made in 2013, On The Way to School is one such and shows the lives of four children and their journey to school every day.A� Incidentally, one of the children is from India. Plissona��s movie was awarded the CA�sar Award for Best Documentary Film this year. Clearly drawn to themes revolving around children and wildlife, the Frenchman has also made movies like The Big Day, which talks about the lives of five children and a crucial exam they need to take, and Masai The Rain Warriors, which is about the tribe. That said, the 55-year-old Paris-born director does not rule out making a film with a celebrity. More from himA� on his upcoming movies, wildlife and the countries he has been to:
Why does wildlife feature so prominently in your work?
I used to live in East Africa, when I worked as a wildlife director for Canal+, Nat Geo, BBC, Discovery Channel etc. I have spent most of my life in the wild and remote places, to document the relationship between humans and wild animals.
Tell us about Super 30.
When I had decided to do The Big Day,A� I had asked Devanshu Arya, an ad filmmaker (of Ignite Films), to search for an interesting and true success story that would work. After a few days, DevanshuA� and A L Abanindran (his partner)A� got back to me about the Super 30. It is about 30 kids from a poor background who are given an eight-month training to crack IIT. I thought it was a very good idea, so we did it.
Why are you fascinated by themes that revolve around children?
I like the world of kids, education and the wild. I like to show the world, especially the developed countries, that you have incredible kids fighting for education and a better life in some parts of the world.
When did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 18 because I liked pictures, travelling, meeting people around the world with different stories and culture. I never thought of or had any ideas of an alternate profession.
You have lived in several countries. What have you learnt from the people there?
I have lived in Australia, Kenya, USA, Argentina, etc, and I have always met fantastic people who had incredible stories to tell. That is my inspiration.
What was your first film?
I have done a lot of documentaries but the first success was a movie called Elephant Bones of Life a��Quand les A�lA�phants meurent.
How about a full length, commercial film?
I would like to, but my movie will be based on true stories.
Pick and choose
?A� Most cherished film: The Thin Red Line
?A� Favourite wildlife filmmaker:A� Jacques PerrinA� ?A�A� Last watch: Planet of the Apes
?A� Genre specific: I like different kinds of moviea��be it action, romance, fantasy
a�� Mrinalini Sundar
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan, Shraddha Kapoor
Vishal Bhardwaja��s Haider, based on William Shakespearea��s Hamlet, goes beyond clichA�s on Kashmir. Bhardwaj is renowned for taking the barda��s plays and weaving them into different cultural milieus. The director has also brought out the best in Shahid Kapoor in this film.A� Shraddha as a journalist is fresh, but unexciting.
a�� Team Indulge
Director: Siddharth Anand
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif
What happens when Nanda (Roshan), a stylish thief, takes up the challenge of stealing the Kohinoor diamond from London? Thata��s the story of Bang Bang. The plot is stodgy, Kaif has been given no scope for acting and whenever things get too tedious on screen, Roshan takes off his shirt. Abbas Tyrewalaa��s dialogues fail to hit the mark. The only plus point of the
film: its foot-tapping music.
Cast: Vishnu, Sri Divya
Blending the elements of romance and sports (cricket) beautifully, Suseenthiran weaves an engaging tale around the journey of a youngster as he fights against various odds
to achieve his goal. It has an uncomplicated screenplay, a simple narrative style, and characters and incidents one can relate to. Vishnua��s splendid take on his character is a key strength of the film. Ita��s a sweet , simple, heartwarming tale of hope and positivity.
Multi-tasker Rakul Preet Singh has three films in the pipeline and hopes to work with Ranveer Singh soon
Rakul Preet Singh is a busy girl nowadays. Besides a good run at the box office with her latest Telugu movie, Loukyam, which released last week, she is on a shooting spree with three movies in her kitty and Ramesh Sippya��s Shimla Mirch, which will see her paired opposite Rajkummar Rao (of Kai Po Che fame). Playing daughter to Hema Malini, the 23-year-old girl from Gurgaon says, a�?I will also be sharing screen space with Ravi Teja in Kick 2 and Ram in Pandaga Chesko.a�?
Back to start
Having made her debut in Bollywood earlier this year with Yaariyan, the actress admits to being more focussed about her career now than when she did her first Kannada film, Gilli, in 2009. a�?I was fresh out of school then and didna��t even know if I wanted to act,a�? she says, adding that she has always looked up to Kajol and Amitabh Bachchan. On juggling three industries (Tamil, Telugu and Hindi) the actress quips that being a Libran she is known for multi-tasking. a�?All the three are very similar, with language being the only difference,a�? she observes, adding that she loves experi-menting with different genres like romance and comedy.
Insisting that personal life is always top priority, the actress says, a�?My parentsA�A�A�A� areA� supportive. My mother advises me on fitness and beauty, while my father takes an interest in my industry interactions.a�? Talking about scripts, she says that the role and the director always influence her decisions. As for actors she wants to work with, she picks Al Pacino, Sandra Bullock, and Ranveer Singh. a�?Down South Ia��d love to work with Dhanush, Allu Arjun and Pawan Kalyan,a�? she shares. Hanging out with friends is her biggest stress-buster, we learn, apart from watching movies and playing golf (she is a national level player). On life after movies, she prefers to treat it as her job and leave it at that.Shimla Mirchi is scheduled to release this year.
a�� Karan Pillai
Fridays are the most chilled out for Tamannaah Bhatia, who is excited about working in a period film
When you speak to actress Tamannaah Bhatia over the phone, you realise she sounds like the same girl from Tamil movies like Paiyaa and Telugu films like 100% Love. After seven years in South films, she stepped into Bollywood with Himmatwala, followed by movies like Humshakals and Entertainment. Having worked with big names like Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Vijay, Ajith Kumar and Dhanush, the 24-year-old is already considered a senior in the industry. Trying her hand at a period film for the first time, Bhatia is part of Rajamoulia��s `150 crore Baahubali. The actress speaks about her early start in movies (at 13), competition and how she spends her Fridays.
I play a princess in Rajamoulia��s period Telugu film, Baahubali. Ia��ve also done a couple of stunts in it too. Then I have an untitled Tamil film with Arya, which will go on floors in November, and another Telugu film lined up.
I have been portrayed very differently in Baahubali. It is a new avatar for me. I havena��t got to do anything different after 100% Love and Oosaravelli.A� I like being projected in different characters. I would like to do a rustic film like Gangs of Wasseypur or a women-centric film, provided the screenplay is good.
I think competition is very good and gives you a push to do better. As for limitations as an actor, every day is about overcoming something you cannot do.
I am glad films came to me at a very early age. You can adapt better when you are younger.A� I see people of my age who are very inexperienced.
As an actor, I have to explore a lot more. This is one of the most important phases of my career. Ia��veA� already acted with all the big stars and now I am more careful when I choose my roles. It is important to have a nice mix of films and show versatility.
I do not agree that an actress is a mere prop. A comedian cannot replace an actress and everybody has a certain space in a movie.
I am never nervous on a Friday. It is like waiting for your exam resultsa��you cannot go back in time and do anything about it. My failures are as important as my success as they teach me to move forward.
Baahubali is scheduled to release in the first half of 2015.
Last watch: Divergent. The actors did a great job
Tamil flick: I liked Pizza a lot. The Tamil film industry is coming up with a lot of out-of-the-box films
Friends in the industry: I have interacted a lot with Dhanush, Shruti Haasan, Rana, Samantha and Prabhas. Whenever we meet at social functions, we hang out
a�� Mrinalini Sundar
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