Daily Archives: Dec 19, 2014
Two Bangladeshi artists explore ships, life and politics
In 2009, Shumon Ahmed, a visual artist from Bangladesh, decided to accompany his Swedish friend, Jan Gruvborg, to the second largest ship-breaking yard in the worlda��Chittagong in Bangladesh. Little did he know that the photographs he clicked there, using a plastic medium format film camera, would go on to be featured at art exhibitions across the world, including the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014. The artista��s projecta��a series of 12 photographs titled Metal Grave (an ode to the graveyard of ships)a�� deals with the place, the ships and the people involved. a�?The dead bird in one of the photographs represents the future of the young boys working at the ship-breaking yard,a�? explains Ahmed, adding, a�?My next project is to visit ship-breaking yards in India and Pakistan.a�?
Context is all
Talking about the 38-year-olda��s work, curator Jitish Kallat says, a�?Shumona��s photographsA� are deeply moving meditations on transience and time. They are also reminders of deep maritime histories linked to this harbour and the shorelines of Kochi.a�?
Another Bangladeshi artist taking part in the Biennale is Naeem Mohaeimen, a visual artist and writer based in Dhaka and New York. He has brought down his work titled Kazi in Nomansland, an ongoing project recording the life of a Bengali Muslim poet Kazi Nuzrul Islam. a�?What caught my attention is that Naeema��s work is steeped in the life and politics of Bangladesh, and the contested histories of the subcontinent,a�? signs off Kallat.
Ahmeda��s photographs are on display at Aspinwall House, while Mohaeimena��s work is on display at Durbar Hall. 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets from Rs.50. Details: 2215297
a�� Nimmy Merlien Philip
His films may or may not do well at the box office, but Vikram Prabhua��s career has had a steady grapha�� with his films releasing at regular intervals. The latest on the list is the Christmas release, Vellaikaara Dorai.A�The actorA�plays a jobless, carefree rustic and gets to romance Sri Divya.A�Directed by Ezhil, the film is a light heartedA�A� rom-com with action woven in.
He has yet to get a strong foothold in films, his releases few and far between. Following Ner Ethir, Richard appears in yet another negative role in Sutrula. Directed by debutant Rajesh Alfred, the film also has Mithun, Sriji and Ankita in the cast. An actionA�thriller, ita��s about a pair of lovers who elope to a hill station, their friends going missing one by one. The film releases today.
The excitement surrounding Pisasu, which releases today, is not surprising. After all, ita��s a film produced by (director) Bala and directed by Mysskin. It alsoA�followsA�Mysskina��sA�much acclaimedA�action-thriller,A�Onaayum Aatukuttiyum. A paranormal thriller, the film has debutantes Naga and Prayaga in the lead. Mysskin had visited universities abroad to research his subject.
X-mas markets, mulled wine and the thumping club beat a�� take your celebration to Europe
As I walk through Gendarmenmarkt, my inner oenophile tries hard to resist the piping hot GlA?hwein (hot, spiced mulled wine), but a hundred metres into the festive Christmas market, I succumb. I wander around mesmerised, wine in one hand and a pretzel in the othera��it takes me less than a weekend to yield to Berlin and her varied charms. By day the city is a cultural cornucopia: a museum lovera��s paradise, the heart of the cold war, a city that (barely) stood through the testing times of the Third Reich. And yet, as the sun sets over the River Spree, the city springs into life. The snow and bone-chilling winds dona��t stop Berliners from flocking to some of the most happening party-spots in all of Europe.
Arriving early on a Saturday morning, I cana��t think of a single reason to not make the pilgrimage to the hedonistic Berghain. A former power-station, now said to be the worlda��s best techno night club, it is rumored to have the most capricious door policies in the city. As I check in, I ask theA� front desk for directions and remark that I plan to stop by later that night. He looks at me incredulously and says, a�?If you dona��t go around 5 am, you wona��t get in!a�? Despite being the crack of dawn, Ia��m confronted with a long queue of eager club-goers waiting their turn. While spiffy teens and 20-somethings with funky piercings and tattoos are turned away by the dozen, I am ushered into the a�?churcha�� of techno by the largest man I have ever seen. Long story shorta��Berghain is worth the pain, even for a clubbing-neophyte like me whose idea of good music is the a�?top 20a�� on radio. Some of the worlda��s best known artistes and DJs are given a free rein and asked to experimenta��the result is really something.
Exhausted from my night of partying, I sleep through the day and wake up just in time for sunset. By the banks of the Spree, I am treated to a spectacular view of the Berliner Dom; for 7 euros you can climb up on the dome of the cathedral for a spectacular view of the city. The quiet of the roof slowly calm my nerves and I am ready to start exploring the citya��s famed X-mas markets.
Where to go
?A� Berlin has over 60 Christmas markets, so chances are you will stop at least a dozen while walking through the city. The markets are always bustling and serve up some serious wine, amaretto, beer and bratwurst. The market at Potsdamer Platz has Europea��s largest toboggan runa��definitely worth your money. Not brave enough? Then buy plenty of liquid courage at the marketa��the specialty GlA?hwein with a side of amaretto.
?A� The Gendarmenmarkt is a scene out of the worlda��s most beautiful Christmas movie. The market itself is in downtown Berlin and nestled in between three important historical landmarksa��The Deutsche Dom, the Konzerthaus and the FranzA�sische Friedrichsa��tadtkirche. The market itself is impressive, but go there for the daily Christmas shows.
* Every market in Berlin has its own charma��the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church market is known for its hot cocoa, the Spandau market has a nativity scene with live animals, the Nordic-themed Lucia market, with its intimate setting, made me ache for my better half, but my favourite was the smaller Opernpalais market, which lets you take a ride around downtown Berlin on a horse-drawn carriage.
?A� The Berliner Weihnachtszeit is a must-visit, 50-metre Ferris wheel. For those who are steady on their feet (after the wine), the market has a beautiful ice-skating rink. If you have the patience to trek across town, then Schloss Charlottenburg Market is a good investment.
What to eat
?A� Bulette: A big fat pork meatball. Ask for a sprinkling of curry powder on top for an extra kick.
?A� Gulaschsuppe (goulash) and Berliner Kartoffelsuppe (Berlin potato soup): Ia��m not a fan, but in the cold, it does the trick.
?A� Schmalzkuchen: The German version of mini-doughnuts. Watch out for the icing sugar which can ruin a perfectly nice winter coat on a cold day.
?A� Christstollen: A tunnel-shaped cake, which is traditionally baked with raisinsa��though I prefer the versions stuffed with marzipan.
Night at the museum
Berlin has memorable museums that are well worth your time and money. For 24 euros, you can buy a pass that guarantees you entry to over 45 museums in the city. My personal favourites are the Pergamon Museum (the Pergamon Altar, after which it is named, is closed until 2016), Neues Museum (which houses Nefertitia��s bust) and the newly-opened DDR museum, which is highly interactive. Also visit the Bauhaus Museum.
Top 3 attractions
Brandenburger Tor: This neoclassical triumphal arch was featured prominently by the media around the breaking of the wall, in 1989. Now restored to pre-World War status, it is a sight to behold. Look closely at the arches and spot bullet holes left by the Soviet army.
East Side Gallery: The worlda��s most iconic wall serves as the canvas for the worlda��s largest open-air gallery. Spend a morning walking the 1.2 km stretch and admiring the 105-plus paintings on display.
Checkpoint Charlie: A former checkpoint between East and West Germanya��now a fantastic photo-op and a museum. Others include the Reichstag Building (needs advance booking), the 368-metre Berlin TV Tower, and Wintertraum am Alexa (Alexanderplatz)a��for the breakdance ride and the nutella-rum crepes.
Paintings, books and organic treats await. Plus, workshops on pyrography and X-mas baubles
Jazz and stoles
Mango Hill has the perfect Christmas eve dinner planned.A� They will have a live jazz concert by Angeline & Jurraiangelo. On December 24, from 8 pm onwards.A� Also, at La Marina, there is an exhibition ofA� jewellery, woolen stoles, silk scarves and kaftans. Meanwhile munch on quiches and homemade cupcakes too. On Sunday. Details: 0413 4300333
Playing with fire
Let your children get innovative with DakshinaChitraa��sA� pyrography (wood painting) workshop. For the curious, pyrography is a technique of burning designs on to wood. For children aged between eight and 14. At Rs.600. As part of their Christmas celebrations, Stephen Eckard will teach children how to make Christmas decorations like angel puppets and stained glass ornaments. From 2 pm to 4 pm.A� At Rs.100. Details: 9841777779
Bringing over 1,00,000 books in Tamil, English, French, Hindi and other languages, the 18th edition of the National Book Fair is organised by the Puducherry Cooperative Book Society. On till December 28, they also have music programmes and are conducting various competitions that include elocution, poetry, quiz, drawing and painting at the venue. FromA�10 am to 10 pm. At Vel Sokkanathan Thirumana Nilayam. Details: 0413 2211748
An exhibition on abstract art is on at Artika Gallery.A� The artwork is by Irish-Canadian Jacqueline O Rogers and Matthew Talbot-Kelly who have used acrylic paint as their medium. Kelly is a self taught artist, animator, film maker and entrepreneur and Rogers is a writer. At Artika gallery, tillA�January 5. From 7 pm to 11.50 pm. Details:A�9894910080
Join Sankalpa, an NGO (on grassroot level projects), and be present at the launch of Art Cart! It is a mobile structure stocked with art supplies, which will be an interactive installation at the Visitora��s Centre.A�OnA�December 19, from 6 pm to 10 pm at the Visitors Centre, Auroville. Details:A�0413 262 2239
Day on the farm
The Auroville weekend farmers market is back. This time it is featuring live performances on stage, organic fruits and vegetables from Auroville farms, home made jams, pickles and cakes, Johnnya��s Tea and much more. The organisers are also inviting performers to showcase a short performance. OnA�December 20, from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm. Details: 9486623749
a�� Team Indulge
Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
Having reclaimed their homeland from the dragon, Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. While Bilbo (Freeman) is seen fighting for his life, only Gandalf (McKellen) sees enemy Sauron rising too. Phenomenal effects, action and a hint of emotion, make this one the best of the series.
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, Yami Gautam
Romance blossoms between small-time crook Vishi (Devgn), and HR executive Khushi (Sinha). But their relationship takes a complicated turn when the police and an international don are on the lookout for professional assassin AJ, who looks like Vishi. Poor direction and a mixed plot makes for a movie that fails to entertain.
Director: K S Ravikumar
Cast: Rajinikanth, Anushka, Sonakshi Sinha
Set in two time periods, with a dam playing a crucial role in both. Rajinikanth dons a dual role. Looking dapper as the collector-king, he gets some fine performing moments. But as Lingaa the present day thief, ita��s a predictable character.The heroines fit in suitably. The first half is racy and engaging. But the second slackens, it’s length and weak climax a downer.
a�� Malini Mannath
The 12th Chennai International Film Festival sees 171 films and many award winners
The go-to man when it comes to film festivals in Chennai, E Thangaraj is busy this month. After all, this is when the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) takes place.A� While last year saw guests like Aamir Khan and Kamal Haasan at the event, this year (12th edition) will have some surprise guests. But more importantly, there will be 171 films from 45 countries that will be screened. Divided into categories based on language and region, there are 12 films in Tamil, 17 Indian films, four films from Australia, five films from Polland, six Dutch romantic films and the rest from other countries.
Telling about the basis of selection, Thangaraj says, a�?They are all award winning films. All the films are technically sound and once can learn a lot from them. For example, Leviathan by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev won awards at Cannes this year and also won a cash prize at this yeara��s Goan film festival.a�? Most of the films this year fall under the drama genre. Interestingly, the list also has a list of newly released Tamil films like Madras, Thegidi, Kathai, Thiraikathi, Vasanam,Iyakkam, Salim, Saduranga Vettai and Sigaram Thodu.
As for some of the international films that one should check out, a��dona��t miss the clever political drama, Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere by Vietnamese director, Diep Hoang Nguyen at Woodlands. There is also Roseville by Bulgarian director Martin Makariev. The horror drama is at Woodlands on December 20. Thangaraj promises a spectacular opening for the event with the screening of the film, In the Name of my Daughter by French directorAndrA� TA�chinA�.
The festival will be held in different locations like Woodlands, Woodlands Symphony, Casino, Inox 3 and Russian Cultural Centre. Till December 25. Details: chennaifilmfest.com/ciff.html
C K Muraleedharan talks about working with Aamir Khan and the evolution of cinematography
wHAT is C K excited about? Well, ita��s todaya��s releasea��PK. More of a a�?behind the lensa�� guy, cinematographer C K Muraleedharan might not be visible during the promotion of the film PK and he might not have his own Wikipedia page but the Kerala native drew attention with big films like 3 Idiots for which he won The IIFA Best Cinematography award, Agent Vinod, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Ek Hasina Thi. His tryst with cinema began right from his college days in the 80s, as Muraleedharan says, a�?I was part of the film society movement and we used to screen Kannada, European and intense Shyam Benegal films. That was when I had decided to join the film industry. I went to the The Film and Television Institute in Pune which was also a great influence on me. Though initially I wanted to become a director, I landed up being a cinematographer.a�?
Simple yet complex
Having worked with Aamir Khan twice, Muraleedharan, 52, says it is always a pleasurable experience, a�?We often discuss and argue about shots. He is a a�?no tantruma�� actor, comes to the set on time and we always rehearse together once before he goes for his make up.a�? As for his experience on working on the film PK, Muraleedharan shares that, a�?The concept is complex and Rajkumar (Hirani) took more than two and a half years to finish it. In fact, Rajkumar had a discussion with us before he finalised the script and even researched a lot. But as a cinematographer this was an easy film. It was just capturing the life of a regular person. We shot in Delhi, Europe and Bombay.a�?
The Hollywood bug
The one scene that Muraleedharan struggled to shoot was in Aamira��s previous film, 3 Idiots. a�?It is the delivery scene. We had to shoot in dim lighting, had to set up the rain, the flooded road and it was such a task,a�? recalls Muraleedharan who has also shot music videos. On Hollywood making spectacular films, a�?It is all about the homework. People brush it off saying we dona��t have the finances, which isA� not true. We take more than 100 days to finish a film, while they complete it in 60 days,a�? he shares.
Collectabillia presents its third auction, with Federera��s racquet, Sachina��s bat and Suareza��s boot, up for grabs
After successful online auctions Collectabillia, the Bangalore-based store selling authentic signed sports and entertainment memorabilia, brings Chennai the third edition of its Collectabillia Winter Auction. The auction has memorabilia, including autographed boots/spikes by Suareza��s, Usain Bolt, and autographed photos by celebs like Tom Cruise and Al Pacino going under the hammer. Father-son tennis duo of Vijay and Prakash Amritraj will take centre stage during the auction, in a live conversation with the guests, and Anjana Reddy, the founder of Collectabillia, promises a a�?Fun and relaxed evening with Vijay cracking jokes and keeping the air light and exciting.a�? She also tells us about the most sought after items at the auction:At 6.30 pm, on December 20, at Vivanta by Taj-Connemara. Details: collectabillia.com
Sachin Tendulkara��s bat
I think this is going to be the show-stealer. There is no need to add anything more to the fact that it is the bat with which he scored his hundredth hundred. Starting bid: Rs.2,00,000
Roger Federera��s racquet
I am really looking
forward to the auctioning of Rogera��s racquet because it is close to my heart. I see a lot of tennis fans are really excited about the new products that we have on offer for this auction. Starting bid: Rs.2,00,000
Cristiano Ronaldoa��s jersey
Ronaldo and Messi have been newly signed by us this year. Ronaldoa��s jersey in particular is going to be a great hit at the auction because of how famous he is and how crazy people in India are about football.Starting bid: Rs.1,50,000
Monia Lamarche Latest Performance
With over 1,200 performances in six countries to her credit, Monia Lamarche makes her Chennai debut at Park Hyatt
My chat with Monia Lamarche has left me a tad confused. Ita��s difficult to choose the right adjective when describing certain people and shea��s one of them. Do I call her a�?diligenta�� because shea��s giving me an interview barely 12 hours after her 30-hour flight from Canada? Should I describe her as a�?multi talenteda�� because she sings (in English and French), composes (she has done 20 original tracks), pens lyrics, models, acts and also writes fiction (a book on music, anyone)? Perhaps she should be called a�?experienceda�� because shea��s done over 1,200 shows in over six countries. Or maybe a�?smarta�� since she speaks six languages, including Arabic, Spanish and Italian.
Lamarche, who hails from Montreal, is not new to India. Her seven-year career as a freelance performer has taken her to places like Egypt, Japan, Maldives and more recently, New Delhi and Hyderabad. a�?I like to discover the people, food, culture, architecture,a�? says the political sciences and international relations graduate from University of Quebec in Montreal, whose earliest inspiration to take up music was a�?Madonna, then Shania Twain and Celine Dion.a�? But dona��t let that get you thinking that shea��s more of a country-pop singer. Lamarche, who has studied music and has a diploma in presenting for radio and television, has completed several workshops in theatre, dancing and acting, among others, and takes pride in her wide repertoire. a�?I do jazz, easy listening, lounge, retro, pop/uptempo,a�? she says, listing artists from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to John Legend and Dido.
At the Elephant
Refusing to pick a favourite from the many venues she has performed at, Lamarche quips that she is looking forward to her time at The Flying Elephant, where she is most likely to perform solo. But she is definitely open to collaborations with other artistes, like Mumbai-based pianist Ryland Da��Souza who she performed with while in Hyderabad. For New Year, we hear that Lamarche will share the spotlight with other artists (DJs most likely) at the grand bash that Park Hyatt plans to put up. And after party season, wea��re sure Lamarche will be looking forward to her time in Chennai, to check all the usual boxes a�� from beaches to churches and temples, with plenty of restaurant hoppingA� and of course, a visit to the French colony, that she seems to be waiting to do.
Monia Lamarche starts performing at The Flying Elephant from today. Details: 71771234
Avocados for butter and chia seeds for eggsa��here are a few of our favourite things for a healthy twist on X-mas cakes
Sunny side up
Ita��s not just vegetarians and vegans who want to go eggless with their treats. Many of the health conscious would like to steer clear of these (and their artificial substitutes), too. So we say, try some seedsa��chia and flax to be exact. a�?Combine one tablespoon of chia or flax seed powder with three tablespoons of water, let it sit for 15 minutes, then use it as a one-to-one substitute for your baking,a�? says Dr Sunitha Raja, the baker behind the Facebook page, Sugar Cube. Whata��s more, every addition will get you proteins, fibre, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3 and much more. Tip: If you are allergic to seeds, then combine a half teaspoon of baking powder, one tablespoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of water, and use in place of an egg. Details: Pick up chia and flax seeds at Brown Tree, 45022210
In your cookies, replace half a cup of sugar with an equal amount of apple sauce. Or soak raisins, figs, dates, apricots or any other dried fruits overnight, blend and use as a liquid sugar substitute (reduce the remaining liquid ingredients accordingly). Details: 45022210
Butter me right
Dona��t think we are barking up the wrong tree if we say avocados and prunes are great substitutes for butter. PurA�ed avocadosa��with their heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acidsa��have almost the same consistency as butter. a�?You cannot make out the difference if you replace all of the butter in a recipe with the neutral-tasting purA�e,a�? informs Raja. But she warns that since butter has a smidgen more fat, you may need to use a little extra purA�e to get the right consistency.
In dark baked treats, add prune puree (blend A? cup of prunes and A? cup of boiling water, and substitute in equal amounts) to halve the calories and fat. Tip: If fruits are not your thing, try some silken tofu (rich in protein and calcium) in a one-to-one ratio. Details: Pick up avocados at Nilgiris (42139840) and prunes at Nuts a�?na�� Spices (28268180)
Many of you may try to walk the slippery path of healthy desserts by introducing whole wheat or soy flour into your batter, but we say go the whole hog. Why dona��t you get creative with your cake mix and give almond flour a try? a�?I make my dulche de leche cakes with all almond flour and the result is a decadent treat,a�? says Linu Paul, a home baker. This gluten-free switch will also give your cakes a healthy dose of proteins and omega-3, besides imparting a delicious nutty flavour. Tip: You might want to increase the amount of rising agent (about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of almond flour added) to make up for the extra weight. Quinoa flour is great too, but cut it with an equal portion of your regular flour. Details: Pick up a kilo of California Almond Flour (Rs.3,236) at in.evitamins.com
For those who like their eggs, we say stick with thema��just ditch the ones sourced from battery cages and choose free range instead. According to a Mother Earth News survey, the latter contain twice as much omega-3, three times the vitamin E, seven times more pro-vitamin A beta-carotene, a quarter less saturated fat and a third less cholesterol. Pick them up at Vaer Organics,A� 9444667070
There are several options when it comes to going healthy with the sweetener. The most common: substituting white sugar with muscovado or unrefined brown sugar. With benefits like iron and minerals, it is much sweeter than regular brown sugar. Honey (benefits that include a�?energy boostera��) is a great option, too. Use three quarters of a cup of honey for every cup of sugar and get more nutrients for your calories. Agave nectar, with its low glycemic index (sweetness that wona��t spike your blood sugar levels), is another good pick.
Tip: Sometimes, cutting the sugar (almost half in some cases) and adding an extra teaspoon or so of vanilla extract can give just as much flavor. But this needs some testing to get the ratio right. Details: Pick up agave nectar (Rs.630 for 360 ml) at Annai Organic and Naturals, 9443206790
If you are baking brownies, how about replacing half of the butter or oil with an equal amount of cooked and pureed black or cannelloni beans. It cuts calories and gives a boost of proteins. And while you are at it, replace a quarter cup of sugar with two-thirds of a cup of finely-grated raw beetroota��to get both sweetness and added moisture.
Fat in the frosting needna��t be a downer. Replace the cream with evaporated skim milk (one-to-one swap). While it might have a tad more sugar (two grams more), it will get you a significant drop in fat. Or melt some bittersweet chocolate with low-fat milk and drizzle over. Another fat-free optiona��serve warm fruit purA�e for a side of sweetness and a serving of antioxidants.
Ita��s not just the season to be merry, but also the season of excessa��of gifts, parties, cakes and, of course, calories. From the rich plum to the decadent spiced chocolate cakes, therea��s always way too much on offer and too little will to say no. But taking a page from cooks like Nigella Lawson (and her gluten-free treats like the Gorgeously Golden Fruit Cake), we give the much-maligned cake a healthy twist by elevating it to a source of good cholesterol, antioxidants and hi-fibre. Dona��t believe us? Check out our alternative baking ingredients before you slip on your oven mitts this season.
By Surya Praphulla Kumar
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