Get ready to welcome the season with music performances, a potter’s market and a photo exhibition
DakshinaChitra is hosting an exhibition of drawings by artist Bodhiselvam, titled Bodhisatva, a part of his Sambodhi series, which is influenced by Buddhist and Zen philosophy. Till the end of February 28. There is also a one-day tie and dye workshop for children, where participants can learn the basic techniques involved in creating multi-hued designs on T-shirts. Rs 800. January 31, at DakshinaChitra. Details: 27472603
Ragas and rock
Auroville-based fusion band, Temple Rock, is all geared to perform tonight at Alliance Française de Pondichéry. The band draws its roots from traditional Carnatic ragas, which they transform into new musical frames inspired by western rock and jazz. From 7 pm onwards. Details: 0413 2334351
Alliance Française de Pondichéry is hosting a photography exhibition titled War Colonies 1914 -1918. It features photographs of colonies from World War I and how the local people were impacted by the war and colonisation. At Maison Colombani, starting today, from 7 pm to 9 pm. Details: 0413 2338146
The Auroville International Potter’s Market 2015 is finally open. Besides potters from Auroville and Golden Bridge Pottery from Pondicherry, the market will host potters from around the world. Look out for functional ware that includes pots, plates, bowls, teapots and mugs, besides sculptures and other artistic pieces. Products available from Rs 50 onwards. At the Visitors Centre, today and tomorrow, from 10 am onwards. Details: 0413 2622239
Ramani, a Bharatnatyam exponent from the Kalakshetra Foundation is performing Pratidan. A graceful dance performance, it revolves around the dancer’s interpretation of the term ‘reoffering’. At the Indianostrum Theatre, tomorrow, from 7 pm onwards. Rs 100. Details: 04132341475
Santiniketan-based Alexandre Jurain will be playing the esraj (a string instrument), accompanied by vocalist Shukantu Basu, at the musical night being organised by the Kamban Kalai Arangam. A disciple of Sri Abir Singh Khangura, Jurain will be the focus of the evening. The duo has previously teamed up for several performances across the globe. Today, from 7 pm onwards. Details: 0413 2225070
French baker Saloua Sahl makes exotic flavoured cupcakes with quirky notes
WHEN the chocolate, lemon and coconut Moustache Murugan cupcakes created a buzz at La Marina Fest last week, we decided to investigate. The sweet treats are part of a month-old brand Eat My Cake. This is a start-up by one of Pondicherry’s few home bakers—the very French Saloua Sahl. The 35-year-old makes traditional French pastries like Tarte Tatin besides apple pies and chocolate cakes. “I come from a generation where my mother used to cook every day, despite being a working woman. We did not like the concept of frozen food, and I have always been this person who likes good food. That was my first inspiration to bake and cook,” says Sahl, who started making cupcakes as a hobby with her friends, on a trip to San Francisco in 2010.
Cake with a message The cupcakes come in flavours like full chocolate, chocolate-coconut, orange and green lime, and Sahl tries to make something different every day. She promises a salt cupcake for an apéritif soon. “I use chocolate with minimum 65 per cent of cacao, organic sugar and flour,” says the baker who embarked on her journey to India in 2008 and came down to Pondicherry in 2012. She is currently a volunteer at Satya Special School, for disabled children. Eat My Cake, says the baker, is a feisty endeavor by a feisty French woman. “I had always dreamt of combining my love for baking with a social cause. Now, I not only make cupcakes but also teach baking to women and young girls at Satya Special School ,” she says. The highlight is her quirky add-ons like flags, moustaches and mini tiaras on her cupcakes. As for her bakery, she asks us to hold on for three more months.
Priced at Rs 80 per piece and a box with 12 mini cupcake costs Rs 300. Details: eatmycake.in —Mrinalini Sundar
In addition to their new attractions like the petting zoo, VGP Universal Kingdom promises a snow park soon
We’re quite certain that the F-14 Tomcat in Top Gun did not do any reverse flips or somersaults on a horizontal axis. But the new ride at VGP Universal Kingdom, named after the 1986 film, does that and more. Ok, it is not anywhere in the league of the top rides in the world, or even the country (we’ll give Nitro at Adlabs Imagica in Maharashtra, that distinction), but judging by the screams and the daredevils who tried it comparing the ride to a ‘giant washing machine gone wild’, it’s easily the best on offer in Chennai — for now at least. Top Gun is one of a few new attractions at VGP Universal Kingdom, that is currently undergoing a makeover, with a new logo, mascots and more.
To begin with, the statues of soldiers and elephants flanking the amusement park’s entrance have transformed into minion-like ‘sepoys’. “Our new mascots are Kutti Raja and Chutti Sepoy,” says VGPR Premdas, CEO, explaining that the switch was made to appeal more to children. These mascots in bright red were created for VGP by Bangalore-based Happy Creative, who are also behind the ads of Flipkart and Basics. Besides being part of the facelift, Premdas also shares that his mascots will soon feature on games that will be available for mobile phones. We also learn that the group is working on a snow park (with a 30-foot snow slide) that is expected to launch just in time for summer.
Meet the animals
If you’re making the trip before the snow park launches (we can’t wait to build snowmen), you will still have plenty to do with their water rides and approximately 15,000 sq ft wave pool already attracting young and old looking for ways to beat the heat. But as appealing as jumping into a pool with 500 others sounds, we choose to spend time instead at their new petting zoo where we’re welcomed by Rocky, the white Cockatoo. Saying “hello” to anyone who engages him in a conversation, Rocky and his other feathered friends — Macaw couple, Jack and Jill — are not the only star attractions here. Save for the naughty emus who are fenced away for your safety, you are surrounded by pigeons, geese, guineafowl, goats and a few adorable spotted deer too. As a group of tots amuse themselves feeding the birds, we stand by and watch the action unfold till it’s time for us to go home.
Packages from Rs 225 for children and Rs 275 for adults. Details: vgpuniversalkingdom.in — Ryan Peppin
Despite a Golden Globe for Birdman, Michael Keaton was pipped at the post at SAG by Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Nevertheless, the actor has become an Oscar favourite and the film has received nine nominations. In the all-star cast comedy, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the 60-year-old plays a has-been actor, Riggan Thomson, who attempts to save his career by staging a Broadway production. Best known for his brilliant performance in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice in 1988, and later, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), Keaton is also memorable in The Paper and White Noise. He tells us about the ups and downs of Hollywood and why Birdman got him excited about being an actor, after a very long time:
Did you know Alejandro González before? No. I knew maybe all but one of his films. I loved his movies—from Amores Perros to Babel and 21 Grams. I got a call from my agent who said that he wanted to meet. He and I had dinner and were just talking… he started explaining the movie as best he could. He said, ‘Will you give me a ride home?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He said, ‘Come round and I’ll give you the script.’ I didn’t know it, but he was going through a really hard time getting it financed because if you explain this movie to someone, not a lot of people would go, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll give you money for that.’ I’m not sure I would have given him any money for it.
Was it an enjoyable process?
Extremely enjoyable because you were challenged every second. I’m not always excited about doing what I do. There was a long period where I wasn’t excited at all. I managed to go out and do something here or there, because you’ve got to stay somewhat involved until something comes along, and I’m fortunate that I did okay financially,.Also I’m half Scottish, so I’m good with money (laughs).
You talked about pulling back from acting for a while. Was that because you grew tired of acting?
I was turning things down, but it wasn’t like people were pounding on my door all the time either. It is what it is. It has its ups and it has its downs. I have a son who is very successful currently, but I’ve told Sean, ‘Get ready dude, this is how it’s going to go. You’re going to go sideways, you’re going to drop down, you’re going to be ‘the guy’. That’s the journey.’
Gurmeet Choudhary makes the move to big screen with a supernatural musical
Despite several movie offers, television artiste Gurmeet Choudhary was not up for acting in a film. But when director Vikram Bhatt offered him the role of Jaidev in the upcoming film, Khamoshiyan, Choudhary could not refuse. “I knew that my launch had to be phenomenal. Beside the script, the banner and director matter a lot to me. A lot of people have told me how Vishesh Films is a good platform to start my career in films. Their songs are good and so is the script,” begins the actor, who was nervous before he signed the film. “I took 20 days to sign. I was skeptical because the character I play is challenging. There are several bold scenes as well. But Vikram supported me and asked me to go ahead,” explains Choudhary.
Directed by Karan Darra, the film also sees actor Ali Fazal and newcomer Sapna Pabbi. Reportedly, the 30-year-old is said to be playing a ghost in the supernatural musical. He responds, “I cannot reveal my role. But I took this film up because my character is strong and the movie cannot move forward without me. I made a sketch of my character and recorded videos where I was in character. I would wake up, eat, sleep, walk and talk like Jaidev and I recorded the whole thing and submitted it to my director, who was very impressed. One could compare the film to the 1949 suspense thriller, Mahal,” says the actor, who is a hit among soap opera lovers. Choudhary started his acting career in 2008, when he played Ram in the hit series, Ramayan, on Star Plus. He went on to play a business tycoon, Maan Singh, in the serial, Geet – Hui Sabse Parayi, and has also showcased his dancing skills in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, besides his dare devilry in Fear Factor. “After period, romance and action, I want to try comedy. I can surprise people with my sense of humour,” insists the actor from Chandigarh. “People used to call me Shammi Kapoor at home. Even as a child, I always imagined myself to be an entertainer,” he concludes.
Actor Ayushmann Khurrana talks about flying objects, his new movie and his weakness for all things retro
BEING unconventional comes easy to actor-singer Ayushmann Khurrana. Be it his choice of films like Vicky Donor, Nautanki Saala and now Hawaizaada or his single titled, Mitti Di Khusboo—the actor has always been off-beat. “People like all things bizarre. Last year saw three unconventional films—Queen, PK and Haider. Hawaizaada will be this year’s,” he begins. Departing from the usual urban North Indian character, Khurrana will be seen portraying the role of Shivkar Bapuji Talpade who is said to have made the first unmanned plane. “I am getting more regional here. We read a lot of books, had script readings and rehearsals before I could start relating to the character,” says the 30-year-old.
Not many are aware of an Indian-made plane before the Wright Brothers. We did not, neither did Khurrana. “When I heard the story, I was taken aback. I Googled the Marathi scientist who made the flying object in 1895. Apparently it flew for 18 minutes in front of 500 people. Freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was also present at the event. I think this film is based on a conspiracy theory and has given Vibhu Puri enough fodder to make a fantastic film,” expresses Khurrana. A period drama, most of it is based on true events, with a few fictitious elements. “The challenge was to break down the body language and learn proper Marathi. I already know how to speak Urdu and Sanskrit, so picking up Marathi was not very difficult. Plus, I’m a sucker for retro. I wish I was an actor from the 60s. I love Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand,” he says. The other task for the makers was recreating Bombay. “We had to build a new Bombay to get the feel of old Bombay. We scouted for places and finally found Gondal, in Rajkot district in Gujarat,” he says.
As part of the research, Khurrana and Puri also met Talpade’s extended family in Mumbai. “They are happy that, after 120 years, Talpade’s story is coming out. I am glad the movie medium is bringing out these stories. If one line can be added to history text books about Talpade, it will be great.” Khurrana has also sung Dil e Naadan for the film. “The ghazal was originally written by Mirza Galib in 1855. The song is fresh and is my tribute to the superstar poet,” he says. As for choosing between acting and singing, he says, “I would always choose acting over music. Even in college, I chose the theatre club instead of music. I think acting is a wholesome experience. Acting helps me express myself better. Music is technical, while acting has no rules,” he signs off.
Hawaizaada is scheduled to release today. — Mrinalini Sundar
Kiran Jethwa uses local ingredients and cooking styles to lure you to the interiors of Kenya
A THIRD-generation Kenyan, Kiran Jethwa’s mixed heritage—English from his mother and Indian from his father— reflects in his style of cooking. The chef and owner of Nairobi’s premier seafood restaurant, Seven Seafood & Grill, he was a finalist for The Taste Award’s “Chef of the Year”. As Kenya’s first celebrity chef, thanks to his show Tales From The Bush Larder, the international rugby player says his three-series show takes you into the interiors of Africa. “Me and my business partner wanted to bring out a different yet positive thing from Africa. Otherwise it is always disease, poverty and negativity. The idea is to show the brighter side of African food,” he says.
Crediting the ingenuity of the people who cleverly use what little they have as his inspiration, Jethwa really hopes to open up the continent as a culinary hotspot. “With the ingredients and process—like fishermen catching prawns with hand nets—the whole idea is to take people to the roots of Africa.” Calling it a food and anthropological travelogue with plenty of adventure thrown in, Jethwa explains that the process of cooking and collecting ingredients changes in the interiors because they cannot afford to waste anything. “For example, the way they catch lobster. They get a long stick and put an octopus at the end of it because lobsters are terrified of them. They lower the stick, push the lobster out of its hiding place, and catch it when its cornered,” shares the chef.
While it looks glamorous on television, Jethwa assures us that it is far from the truth. “For sure the most challenging part of the show was the harvesting of all the various ingredients. It’s often back breaking and dangerous work. It gives you a real respect for all the farmers, fishermen and hunters whom we met,” he says, signing off with a promise of the next two parts (all in interior Africa) airing soon.
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Though he is yet to carve a niche for himself, Irfan’s films have been releasing at regular intervals. His latest is Pongi Ezhu Manohara, where he plays his first ‘rural’ character—a milkman. With Arundhati playing the female lead, the film is directed by debutant Ramesh Rangasamy. A light-hearted romantic entertainer, it hits theatres today.
Water for inspiration
It’s a double whammy for Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan. She’s been conferred the Padma Bhushan and she’s making her debut as music composer in director Vasanth’s new venture, Thanneer. Says Vasanth, whose films have been known for their sensibility and melodious music, ‘‘I’ve been an admirer of hers for years. And I felt I should bring that talent to film music.” An adaptation of writer Ashok Mithran’s novel, the film has Chandini and Gulshan Grover in the cast.
One last time
Meanwhile, Touring Talkies directed by SA Chandrasekhar hits theatres today. An anthology of two films with unconnected plots, one of them has SAC essaying a 70-year-old in search of love. The other story is set in a village and deals with a social evil. Sunu Lakshmi (from Malayalam cinema) plays the protagonist. Incidentally, SAC has said that he will be hanging up his boots, and that this will be his last directorial venture.
Coinciding with the India Art Fair, Anju Dodiya’s Imagined Immortals takes a playful look at life and loss
Death is an inevitability that needn’t cause despair. Anju Dodiya, one of India’s foremost contemporary artists, addressed the illnesses she saw in her family and the terror she read about, with her new collection of paintings that uses an unusual medium: medical illustrations from the 18th century. “Back then, these illustrations were about remarkable discoveries. But I look at them as objects of beauty because when you think about death, and cancel out fear, there is a certain beauty to the fact that in spite of our vulnerability, we have amazing dreams and desires,” begins Mumbai-based Dodiya, explaining how she decided to cut out prints of the illustrations and use them as a collage base. Juxtaposed with animals, flowers and instruments of trade—like her brushes—they are also fun “as, I think, it helps us cope with the drama of death, making it a little absurd,” she says.
Dutch inspiration Titled Imagined Immortals, the collection, currently on exhibit at Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery, comprises of collages and larger, more sombre watercolour and charcoal paintings. The 50-year-old admits she has incorporated different elements. “Visually, they are sharp and play with black a lot. I’ve used a pearl element that refers to 19th century nature morte Dutch paintings, the Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) technique, which incorporates violence and elegance in a way that moves me, and even Chinese plates with their nature motifs like peach blossoms (the title of one her paintings) that are metaphors for long life,” says the two-time Sotheby’s Prize-nominated artist.
Speaking about the ongoing Kochi Biennale and the India Art Fair in Delhi, Dodiya, who participated in the 2009 Venice Biennale, says the art scene is blooming now. “There is still an absense of museums and infrastructure, but we are on our way—there is an excitement about art now. When I visited the first edition of the Kochi Biennale, I saw local visitors coming in hordes. So if it keeps happening, every two years they will be exposed to the latest in contemporary art—educating them and making space for art in their lives,” she smiles.
Vadehra Art Gallery, till February 14. Details: vadehraart.com
When the all-girls dance ensemble, High Kicks, puts a new spin on The Great Gatsby
On February 7, expect to be transported to New York (circa 1920), as the High Kicks ensemble will be performing a new contemporary dance theatre production, The Green Light—an adaptation of Scott Fitzgerald’s classic love story, The Great Gatsby.“This is not a musical, it will be 90 per cent dance and 10 per cent theatrics. Our story’s look and feel is heavily influenced by Baz Luhrmann’s vision of New York in the 20s, as seen in his 2013 movie of the same name, and Fitzgerald’s literary genius. This will also be our most glamorous production—with all 17 dancers and seven special performers being styled by Jaishri’s Premium Rejuvenation and outfitted by The Gatsby Collection,”shares Aparna Nagesh, director-choreographer, whose last offering was The Seeker.
Though there is no dress code, Nagesh is promoting the event as a black tie evening and would love people to “dress up”. To enhance the experiential quotient, Medium Rare—a band that specialises in retro, swing and jazz music—will be performing at the opening. “Honestly, just come for the dancing,” says former VJ Carey Edwards, who plays Jay Gatsby in the production. “Aparna and the girls are amazing. I’ve seen lots of performers and dance companies, but these guys take it to a whole other level in terms of creativity and ability,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the team at High Kicks is already planning the details of their next venture, a five-day dance festival called Big Top. A festival for children and young adults, it is scheduled between April 25-29, to coincide with International Dance Day.
Rs 200 onwards. February 7, from 7 pm, at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Hall. Details: evenjini.com —Anoop Menon
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