Home Archives 2015 April 10

Daily Archives: Apr 10, 2015

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    Third generation hotelier Amruda Nair takes stock of what the new age traveller really wants

    AMRUDA NAIR has  a new baby named Aiana and has big plans for it. The eldest granddaughter of C P Krishnan Nair, the founder of The Leela group of hotels, says her Aiana Hotels and Resorts, launched last month, will have an India-inspired design focus but will target a younger audience (global travellers from the mid-20s to 40s, ‘‘or even a 55-year-old who shares the same mindset’’). Hotels today must draw the line between being intuitive and intrusive, given the personal information that is easily available online, Nair insists. ‘‘But I see a clear shift from scripted and staged holidays to something real and not necessarily perfect,’’ she says. Her own holidays can be categorised as kite-surfing or yoga trips with girlfriends and breaks squeezed into work trips.
    Likes and dislikes
    Nair, 33, who has a master’s degree from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration in New York, and work experience at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels (JLLH), headed Asset Management at The Leela. She has been studying millennial travellers for years now and echoes hospitality consulting network, Horwath HTL’s observation that technology has changed the way travellers identify themselves. ‘‘I’d say 21st century travellers are super active explorers who seek challenges. They are no longer confined to travelling with family, spouses and kids, and are not interested in going to places that their friends and family have visited. They would rather consult an app than a concierge or family. And they are the first to post a picture from an exotic location that no one else has been to,’’ says the fan of Belgian white beers and gourmet coffee. Enabled by technology, these travellers appreciate sustainable green practices. ‘‘I had a lovely experience in Four Seasons Chiang Rai, Thailand, where we signed up for mahout training sessions in old forest areas and later, bathed the elephants,’’ recalls Nair.
    Pets on board
    Another thing about millennial travellers across Asia, says Nair, is that they make time for family holidays and reunions. ‘‘Hotel products are changing to accommodate this. For instance, at a resort, there would be spice trails and berry picking for the kids, with masala chai sessions for the seniors,’’ says Nair who  sets out on safaris and cruises with her cousins. Hotels that are pet friendly are welcome, with dog walkers and resident dogs and cats (Skabenga, featured right, is from The Oyster Box, a boutique hotel in Durban). ‘‘Also, the next generation of travellers will want to plug and play in every area of the hotel, whether it is by the pool, in the lobby or in a cafe. Access to charge points, reliable wifi, modular furniture and lighting is key,’’ Nair concludes.

    Apps to the rescue
    Millennials prefer apps to travel guides. Social media posts from an influencer or a trusted source is a game changer. If something at the hotel is Instagram-ready, good. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is even more critical in a world which is now restricted to 140 characters. For apps, I like Trivago for hotels, Wine Spectator for wine ratings and Foursquare for location tips.

    Back to roots
    Rural tourism is big now. I have travelled with the Mumbai outfit, Grassroots, to a village three hours away, where we had meals in a villager’s home. It was a sports-driven itinerary, with sports drills in the paddy fields. I knew only one other person in the group of eight.
    Later, local kids taught us to fish.
    Such ‘boot camps’ are popular with  young travellers.

    Thrills and quiet
    I enjoy spiritual retreats. My mother and I do the annual literature festival in Jaipur. My girlfriends and I go kite-surfing in Australia, Vietnam and in Poland, on a strip of land called Hel! We spend weekends away with our dogs. And we like that solo holidays teach us to open up. At a surfing ashram in Mangalore, I went alone and met so many like-minded people there.

    Running breaks
    On a 10 km Hash run in Nepal, we chased a paper trail. I have a biking holiday in Leh on my bucket list. Many Asian countries still stay true to their roots and in Bhutan, I was blown away by the humble and genuine interactions. Obviously, they hadn’t been exposed to busloads of tourists. My generation believes in being independent and taking risks.

    The Aaina brief

    Launched with equal partnership between chairman of Qatari Business Association, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Aiana Hotels & Resorts aims to be a leading operator of hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in the Middle East, India and South East Asia. The first property will be operational in 2016 in Doha and Nair is considering coffee estates and sanctuaries with a boutique feel and 60-80 rooms, that are immersive and experiential.

    Rosella Stephen

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      This week, look out for theatre and dance performances, an abstract painting exhibition and a martial art form from Brazil

      Recycled music
      Clear your schedule for tomorrow, as Bengaluru-based  band, Thalavattam, is performing live at Umami Kitchen. Known for their rhythmic music, they use innovative instruments made from waste plastic and metal. Tomorrow, from 8 pm onwards.Details: 9787748481

      Time to move
      Gingado Capoeira, an organisation that promotes Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, is conducting Saturday workshops for children (six to 12). Capoeira is a mix of dance, martial arts, music, acrobatics and play. The classes will be led by Camaleao Roske, an instructor with over 18 years of experience. He will also teach the children a little about Brazilian music and culture. At New Creation Dance Studio, Auroville, from April 11, 10.30 am onwards. Class fee is Rs 200. Details: 9489322615

      Stage ready
      We can’t disappoint theatre lovers. This week, The Drama School from Mumbai is presenting Russian writer and playwright Evgeny Shvarts’ The Dragon—a take on Lancelot slaying the dragon (symbolising the Stalin Government). In a new Hindi translation, the play is directed by Tushar Pandey, a graduate of the National School of Drama and the London International School for Performing Arts. At Adishakti, today, from 7 pm onwards. Details: 0413 2622287

      Soil on canvas
      Jürgen Pütz, an artist of German origin currently based in Auroville, is exhibiting his latest collection of abstract paintings. Inspired by Sri Aurobindo and Ramana Maharishi, the mixed media paintings combine soil and clay (from Auroville and Annamalai Hills) with different paints like acrylic, oil and tempera. Till April 30. At Maison Colombiani. Details: 0413 2334351

      Know your dance
      Brush up on your mudras with Chennai-based dancer, Neela Bhaskar’s lecture demonstration on Bharatnatyam. She will demonstrate the nuances of mime and dance—as taught to her in the traditional Tanjore format. At the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture, on April 12, at 6 pm.
      Details: 0413 2622401

      On the street
      Hamburg-based street artist, Tona, is holding an exhibition at Artika Gallery. It will showcase photographs of his street art, which usually features dogs and children, on unusual mediums, like autorickshaws. From April 15, 7 pm onwards. Details: 09894910080

      — Team Indulge

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        A two-day workshop with French experts focusses on Pondicherry’s heritage sites and restoration

        Architect A Arul believes there are 16 buildings in Pondicherry that need immediate attention. A volunteer at INTACH (an NGO), he tells us that the deserted lighthouse and the quaint police headquarters are some of the buildings that were discussed at the two-day workshop, Smart Heritage and Urban Renovation through Waterfront Management that took place in the French Town. A project that deals with renovation and heritage preservation in Pondicherry, it also took into account the best practices from other parts of India and France.
        The workshop was   a dialogue between French experts (Alfred  Peter, a landscape architect, Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, an urban planner, Franck Boutte, an architect and engineer, and Michele Larue-Charlus, an executive director for urban planning, City Council of Bordeaux) and their Indian counterparts.
        The experts discussed the existing heritage and infrastructure, and touched upon subjects like the city’s seafront management related issues, the canal running through Pondicherry town, the fishermen’s port, the estuary and the lagoon, open drainage system and heritage buildings in both the Tamil and French quarters. Similair to the Pondicherry Heritage Festival, held a few months ago, the workshop, organised by the Department of Tourism along with other organisations (like INTACH, PondyCAN, IIT Madras   and Pondicherry Engineering College), focussed on citizen involvement. The experts plan to travel to Delhi today, where they will have a round table conference based on their findings
        in Pondicherry.
        Details: tourism.pondicherry.gov.in

        — Mrinalini Sundar

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          A zany new book from Auroville lets you reap the benefits of your terrace

          My Pumpkin Roof is more than just a catchy title. The product of Aurovillian Martin Scherfler’s extensive gardening experience, the book is both a call to action and a practical guide, which should resonate with city-dwellers concerned about the quality of their food. Growing up in rural Austria, with parents from a farming background, ‘growing your own’ is a way of life for Scherfler. “I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was when I was made to work in the garden as a chore,” he jokes, adding that he only realised the value of home-grown food when he apprenticed as a chef and began to notice the massive deficiency in the taste and smell of commercially-grown products. Since re-locating to Auroville in 2007, he’s had the space to indulge his passion and learned to adapt his skills to a tropical climate.
          Trial and error
          Scherfler first came to India as part of an Austrian government year-long ‘social service’ programme that saw him working with widows in Himachal Pradesh. Intrigued by Auroville, after a brief visit in 2001, he decided to spend a few months in the community before returning to Europe for his PhD. “A few months turned into a few more, and I decided to stay permanently in 2007,” he shares. Since then, he found his niche co-founding Auroville Consulting, which advises institutions on ecological sustainability. “In my day job, I preach sustainability so I also have to live it. Gardening is one of the easiest ways to do that. It requires little investment, and you learn by trial and error,” he says.
          Digging in
          At the moment, Scherfler is enjoying the summer harvest, with a bounty of tomatoes, long beans, brinjal and okra, which he shares with his neighbours and colleagues, who are then often inspired to start a garden of their own. He hopes that the book, with illustrations inspired by Tamil pop art by illustrator Navleen Kohli, will have a broad appeal, taking that inspiration beyond his own community. There are  sections on the benefits and history of the urban agriculture movement, as well as practical advice on  what to plant and when, tips on containers and tools, a guide to organic pest control, and even recipe suggestions. “It’s a book that you can open up and begin at any page,” says Scherfler. And with real issues like food inflation and scarcity linked to population growth, he feels it will have wide resonance.
          Rs 395 on amazon.in

          — Maegan Dobson Sippy

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            Friday:

            Act of Valour (Action / Drama),
            HBO Defined, 4.50 pm
            Cast: Roselyn Sánchez, Nestor Serrano, Emilio Rivera Centred on a group of US Navy SEALs, the film is a fictionalised retelling of real operations. While trying to locate a CIA operative kidnapped by a drug smuggler, the highly-skilled team inadvertently stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens national security. With a mission to save the country, the group has to also deal with a fanatic terrorist bent on declaring jihad on America. In accordance with the conditions set by the US government, the real identities of the SEALs are not revealed in the film.

            The Thing Called Love (Drama / Romance), HBO Hits, 9.35 am
            Cast: Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock, Dermot Mulroney Aspiring singer-songwriter Miranda Presley (Samantha Mathis) moves to Nashville to try and make it big in the music scene. She gets a gig at the Bluebird Cafe and, while there, makes friends with a group of struggling musicians. The friends, including Linda Lue Linden (Sandra Bullock) soon become inseparable, while Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney) and James Wright (River Phoenix) begin to show an interest in Miranda. Bullock co-wrote and performed Heaven Knocked On My Door.

            The Dark Knight Rises (Action),
            Movies Now, 9 pm
            Cast: Christian Bale,
            Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
            It is eight years after the Joker’s reign of anarchy. Batman (Christian Bale) seems to have vanished, after shouldering the blame for the death of district attorney Harvey Dent. With the arrival of the enigmatic cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), there is a crisis— she robs from Bruce Wayne but the stolen object reaches the wrong hands. However, it is the arrival of the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) that brings Batman out of his self-imposed exile. Hardy had to wear three-inch lifts to make his character appear as tall as his co-stars.

            The Landlord (Comedy),
            MGM Channel, 12:05 pm
            Cast: Beau Bridges, Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey, Lee Grant
            Nearing his 30th birthday, aristocrat Elgar Winthrop Enders (Beau Bridges), decides to leave his parent’s home and buy an apartment in a black ghetto in New York. His initial plan is to evict the black residents. However, after befriending Fanny (Diana Sands) and Marge (Pearl Bailey), and seemingly falling in love with Lanie (Marki Bey), he abandons the idea. But Elgar’s transition into a liberal is far from easy, especially when he ends up having an affair with Fanny. The film was Hal Ashby’s first as a director.

            Saturday:

            Jai Ho (Action / Drama),
            Star Gold, 8 pm
            Cast: Salman Khan,
            Daisy Shah, Tabu, Sana Khan
            The central character, Jai (Salman Khan), is a suspended army officer who dares to stand up to the unjust and the powerful. Unknowingly, Jai invites the wrath of one of the most influential local politicians, Dashrath Singh (Danny Denzongpa), when he attempts to set him on the right path. But instead, Singh makes it his mission to destroy Jai and those who help the do-gooder. Instead of targeting Jai himself, he plays dirty by first trying to intimidate his family. He plans ‘an accident’ involving Jai’s mother and then goes after his sister (Tabu), too. But Jai is not intimidated and musters up his strength to attack Singh. Will that be enough or will the corrupt politician eventually gain the upper hand? The film is the remake of a 2006 Telugu film, Stalin, starring Chiranjeevi and Trisha.

            Need for Speed (Action/Thriller),
            Star Movies HD, 11 pm
            Cast: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper
            Framed by an ex-partner and fresh from prison, a financially struggling custom-car builder and street racer, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), joins a cross-country race with revenge on his mind. He re-acquires the fastest car his workshop ever built and sets off to race, as a way of
            avenging his friend’s death at the hands of a rival racer (Dominic Cooper). This story is about love, redemption and revenge—all mixed together. Every stunt in the movie is real except for the crashes, where they used body kits to have the most authentic scenes.

            One Day (Drama,Romance), Romedy Now, 4 pm
            Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson
            Meeting in college, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have a one-night stand. They fall for each other, but neither is ready to commit. For the next 20 years, their paths cross time and again—between bad relationships, failed start-ups, loss and joy. Emma struggles with her self-confidence, while Dexter deals with drugs and alcohol. Following Dexter’s divorce, the two are drawn together again. But for how long? The screenplay was featured in the 2010 Blacklist (a list of most-liked but unmade scripts) before it was made into a film the next year.

            Sunday:

            Now You See Me (Mystery), HBO, 4.36 pm
            Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman
            After receiving an intriguing summons, which play on their individual fortes, four street magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher) find themselves performing together as The Four Horsemen—sponsored by the insurance magnate Arthur Tressler. At their debut show, they create a stir by teleporting a man to a bank vault in Paris and then causing the money to rain down on the audience in LA. But when FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) realises the money from the bank is actually missing, he and the Interpol must team up to find evidence against the Horsemen. Filming for the sequel began in December 2014, with Daniel Radcliffe playing a lead role.

            Super Nani (Drama), Zee Cinema, 12 pm
            Cast: Rekha, Randhir Kapoor, Sharman Joshi
            The movie revolves around Bharti (Rekha), a housewife and grandmother who enjoys looking after her family. But problems arise when she feels she is treated like a maid and is taken for granted by her family, including her husband. However, things take a turn when Bharti’s grandson, Mann (Sharman Joshi), comes to stay with them and turns their world upside down.Thanks to him, Bharti starts signing modelling contracts and becomes a celebrity who receives an award, too. But her family still struggles to put aside their wicked ways. The film is based on a Gujrati play titled Baa Ae Maari Boundary.

            Killing Season (Action / Thriller),
            HBO Hits, 8 pm
            Cast: Robert De Niro, John Travolta
            Set in present time Belgrade, in Serbia, a former Scorpions (the Serbian paramilitary unit) soldier, Emil Kova (John Travolta), gets information about an American veteran and NATO representitive, Colonel Benjamin Ford (Robert De Niro). Ford, now a recluse, has retreated to the Appalachian Mountains to stay out of the public eye. Clearly out for revenge, Kovac disguises himself as a European tourist on a hunting trip and tracks down Ford. They hit it off well, until Kovac reveals his true identity and they realise they’d fought each other during the Bosnia War. Will they be able to get over their past? Originally called Shrapnel, the film was to star Nicholas Cage and Travolta in a reunion of Face Off, with director John McTiernan helming it.

            Our Pick

            Pure Sin, Food Food, Friday, 7 pm
            Premiering on April 18, this show is all about making the perfect dessert. Chef Shipra Khanna will also explain the scenarios that would be complemented by her desserts. Learn to make pan rasmalai, steamed semolina cakes, multi-flavoured cupcakes and badam ka halwa in the first episode.

            24, AXN India,
            Monday to Friday, 10 pm
            This show narrates the life of Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorism officer. In the latest episode of season one, Bauer’s wife and daughter are taken by a terrorist organisation, who want to kill one of the US presidential candidates, David Palmer, and let Bauer take the fall. Meanwhile, the Counter Terrorism Cell in Los Angeles is trying to help Bauer solve the case. Will he be able to pull it off?

            West Indies vs England,
            Star Sports, April 14, 7.30 pm
            After a dismal performance in the Wolrd Cup, England will look to revive their form in the series against West Indies starting this week. The first test match is set to take place on April 14 and all eyes will be on players Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo.

            Mega Factories, National Geographic Channel, Monday to Friday, 7.30 pm
            This show walks you through the biggest factories and machine manufacturing units across the globe. While the latest episode will take you behind Tata’s Nano—how the cars’ engines, wheels and other components are manufactured and put together—the next one will be about Ducati and the machines that help in the making of the super bike.

            Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid, April 15, Ten Sports, 12.15 am
            The quarter-final round of the UEFA Champions League couldn’t have asked for a better start than a Madrid derby. Atlético host Real at the Calderon and will look to inflict more damage than they already have on the defending champion this season. Juventus face Monaco in the other match of the day. Do not miss PSG vs Barcelona tomorrow.

            In Search of the King Cobra,
            Animal Planet, Friday, 6 pm
            In this show, Austin Stevens, the renowned wildlifer travels across countries like Africa, Australia and Asia in search of king cobras. In the latest episode, he visits the forests of South India—like the Western Ghats and the forests of the Deccan Plateau—to find the most interesting of the hooded reptiles.

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              Broken Horses
              Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
              Cast: Maria Valverde, Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin
              The film follows two brothers who get mixed up in a gang war along the US-Mexico border.
              Did you know? Director Chopra spent five years making the film. It is being supported by directors James Cameron and Alfonso Cuaron. Chopra also had a special screening of the film for his friend and politician, LK Advani.

              It Follows
              Director: David Robert Mitchell
              Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist
              The story revolves around a girl who has disturbing visions after a strange sexual encounter. She also has an inescapable feeling that something or someone is following her.
              Did you know? The movie is based on a dream that the director had. ‘‘I had it several times and I still remember images from it. I didn’t use those images in the film, but rather the basic idea and the feelings. From what I understand, it was an anxiety dream,’’ he said.

              Home
              Director: Tim Johnson
              Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez
              A misfit alien runs away from his people and makes friends with an adventurous girl called Tip. The two set off on an adventure trip, which forms the story.
              Did you know? Rihanna was excited that Jennifer Lopez was voicing the role of her mother in the film. Lopez also promotes her latest track, Feel The Light, in it.

              —Team Indulge

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                Chris Hemsworth on the thunder god’s physics-defying hammer and his fellow superheroes

                CHRIS Hemsworth is everywhere. His superhero character, Thor, was immortalised in wax by the Sydney branch of Madame Tussauds museum and was displayed outside the Sydney Opera House last week. The active Instagrammer has been flooding the app with sexy surfing shots and, on the family front, when he is not busy getting pedicures from his two-year-old daughter India Rose, the super dad is throwing adorable petting zoo birthday parties for his year-old twin boys. And though the actor doesn’t have a comedy background, he recently hosted the SNL show, where his monologue included his real-life brothers and a lot of jokes. After an unsuccessful outing as a brawny hacker in his last film (Blackhat), Hemsworth is looking forward to reprising Thor in the upcoming Avengers—Age of Ultron. The Aussie star gets talking about director Joss Whedon, the cast and friction with Iron Man. More from him:

                So Thor is now living on Earth.
                We see a more grounded, earthly version of Thor than we have in the past. It’s nice because there are a few more opportunities for humor and to see him in some casual gear, instead of the cape and the armor that we always see him in.

                Tell us about Thor’s role within The Avengers team?
                He’s a central part of the team now. He’s established and there’s certainly a unity that they’ve all formed that is solid. Thor sees a bigger picture of the current conflict that’s going on. There’s the initial battle that they’re involved in, but Thor uses his Asgardian knowledge and starts to tap into some otherworldly possibilities to use against the threats that he thinks are coming.

                Is there some animosity amongst
                The Avengers?
                There is as much conflict in the group as there’s been in the past and Thor certainly pinpoints a lot of the problems with Iron Man, and blames him and has a lot of animosity towards him. Thor and Captain America always see each other as equals, so there’s not quite the ego clash there. The rest of the team melds together but Stark is Thor’s biggest problem. Thor’s an easy target for Stark, who is full of sarcasm and wit. There’s Thor standing there in a Halloween-like costume from another world and Stark enjoys having a dig at him, but Thor likes giving it back, too.

                Is it true that this film features bigger stunts and new fighting tools.
                I wanted to get away from the image of Thor appearing like a Viking and just swinging a weapon around and being strong. Thor and Captain America often pair up and do certain things as a team.

                Tell us about working with Joss Whedon?
                Any time you have a director who’s also written the script, it’s a huge benefit because they can articulate exactly what their intentions were when they wrote that character. He’s such a smart guy to be able to bring this many characters together and give them all a purpose.

                Have you gotten better with the hammer after four films?
                Yes, I have. I’ve got little flairs but nothing that impressive. When the CGI comes in, it ends up being a bit more impressive than the little flick I can do with it. It feels funny though, standing on set in that costume without the hammer. I don’t know where to put my hands. Evans talks about the same thing, too, if he doesn’t have his belt buckle to hold onto. You’re left standing there and you feel kind of naked.

                Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled to release on April 24.

                —Team Indulge

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                  With two new independent films and the IPL season underway, Samir Kochhar is on top of his game

                  For the next 45 days, Samir Kochhar’s life is going to be about getting into planes, checking into hotels and enjoying cricket. An actor, a reality TV host, a sports commentator, a theatre artiste and a model—we wonder how Kochhar handles it all. “I have never lost focus. I am glad I can cover all formats. I moved from Delhi to be part of the film industry and today, I do so much. But I am also not choosing random projects,” begins the 34-year-old, who has anchored the popular IPL television shows. He has two upcoming independent films doing the festival circuits—Mango Dreams and Island City. “Mango Dreams is by John Upchurch and is a travelogue—about the journey of a father and son to their grassroots. I play the son, an NRI. Island City is about Mumbai and has three stories woven together. It is directed by Ruchika Oberoi,” says the actor. Having worked with the Bhatts in two of their movies—Zeher and Jannat—Kochhar is waiting for the right script for a commercial film. But he is choosy. ‘‘I like quirky scripts that are up-beat and where I can try different acting techniques. I try and follow method acting whenever possible. For a scene in Bade Achee Lagte Hain, I had to be angry, so I had four pegs of whiskey and the shot came out perfectly,’’ he chuckles.
                  On the cricket front, Kochhar promises this season of IPL will be bigger. “I have had a longer relationship with IPL than my wife. I have been around since the first season and now we are on the eighth,” remarks Kochhar, who believes IPL is the fusion of entertainment and cricket. “It is a festival, a carnival and, this time, the studios are bigger, more colourful, with special performances and a few film collaborations,” says the excited commentator.
                  Mango Dreams releases in the first half of the year.
                  For the next 45 days, Samir Kochhar’s life is going to be about getting into planes, checking into hotels and enjoying cricket. An actor, a reality TV host, a sports commentator, a theatre artiste and a model—we wonder how Kochhar handles it all. “I have never lost focus. I am glad I can cover all formats. I moved from Delhi to be part of the film industry and today, I do so much. But I am also not choosing random projects,” begins the 34-year-old, who has anchored the popular IPL television shows. He has two upcoming independent films doing the festival circuits—Mango Dreams and Island City. “Mango Dreams is by John Upchurch and is a travelogue—about the journey of a father and son to their grassroots. I play the son, an NRI. Island City is about Mumbai and has three stories woven together. It is directed by Ruchika Oberoi,” says the actor. Having worked with the Bhatts in two of their movies—Zeher and Jannat—Kochhar is waiting for the right script for a commercial film. But he is choosy. ‘‘I like quirky scripts that are up-beat and where I can try different acting techniques. I try and follow method acting whenever possible. For a scene in Bade Achee Lagte Hain, I had to be angry, so I had four pegs of whiskey and the shot came out perfectly,’’ he chuckles.
                  On the cricket front, Kochhar promises this season of IPL will be bigger. “I have had a longer relationship with IPL than my wife. I have been around since the first season and now we are on the eighth,” remarks Kochhar, who believes IPL is the fusion of entertainment and cricket. “It is a festival, a carnival and, this time, the studios are bigger, more colourful, with special performances and a few film collaborations,” says the excited commentator.
                  Mango Dreams releases in the first half of the year.
                  — Mrinalini Sundar

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                    Mohamaad Ghibran on his  box office misses and working with the Tamil icon

                    Mohamaad Ghibran’s Enthara Enthara (from Thirumanam Enum Nikkah) was the most played song on radio last year. Though the film bombed at the box office, this 34-year-old music director was unfazed. ‘‘Somehow none of my films have done too well at the box office, but that’s fine because people still remember the songs—like Saridhaana Saridhaana, from Amarakaviyam,’’ begins the city-based composer. Having said that, Ghibran admits that he is shattered each time his films flop. ‘‘In Vathikuchi, the song Kurru Kurru stood out though the film didn’t do as expected. It breaks my heart. But I pull myself together and start working harder on the next project,’’ he continues.

                    A new chapter
                    But things are looking up with Kamal Haasan signing the composer for three of his films—Vishwaroopam 2, Uttama Villain, Papanasam. ‘‘I cannot tell you how much I have learnt from Kamal. It has been emotional—to see how he perceives art and envisions life. He is very easy to work with. He narrates the story to me—the scenes before and after—and brings the song to the centre point,’’ says Ghibran, who has made Haasan sing most of the tracks in Uttama Villain. “He surrenders to the composition and gives it 100 per cent. I remember he had finished a Telugu song recording and I insisted that he sing a Tamil song next. He immediately agreed,’’ he says. While we wonder if it is a lot of pressure composing music for a Kamal Haasan banner, the composer says it is the other way round. ‘‘It is when you make music for smaller budget films that you need to be more careful. A Kamal film has excellent reach. But in a small budget film, the music has to boost the film,” he confesses.

                    The evolution
                    Background score is the soul of a film and Ghibran confesses that composing it is more difficult. “The director has a vision when he describes the situation. The feel and emotion has to be right. When you watch the film, the music should make sense,’’ he says. A fan of all genres, Ghibran tries to include all of it in his songs. He calls himself a good listener and gets nostalgic. ‘‘I have made several mistakes, like working on 80 ads a year like a businessman. Now I know quality matters more,’’ he expresses. He considers YouTube to be an important tool during promotions. ‘‘We had cassettes and now we have YouTube. It is easier for composers to make note of which song is doing well. But you never know how long YouTube will exist,’’ he smiles.
                    Uttama Villain is scheduled to release next month.

                    Tune in

                    Competition: Santhosh Narayanan and I are good friends. Competition comes in business, not in art.
                    What is music to you? Life. I read a lot of biographies about musicians, sculptors and painters. The last I read was on composer Robert Schumann.
                    It is scary because he cut his fingers, went mad  and killed himself.
                    Growing up: I have grown up listening to AR Rahman and Ilaiyaraaja.
                    Playlist: I am listening to the songs of InterstellarWorld musicians: I like
                    Anoushka Shankar a lot.
                    Early dream: I only had two things in mind—music and food. If not a musician, I would have been a chef.
                    Telugu chapter: I recently did Jil in Telugu and it is a commercial hit. It is strange that the people of Andhra Pradesh think I am better at composing commercial hits and here people assume I am better at melodies.
                    Possible collaborations: I call this the impossible collaboration—Yanni.

                    — Mrinalini Sundar

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                      Stock up on Raja Ravi Varma canvas prints, coasters and magnets at a limited sale on e-store, Jaypore

                      India’s most popular artisanal marketplace, Jaypore.com brings to the fore the works of the legendary Raja Ravi Varma, which can be traced back to the late 1800s. On sale are replicas of the artist’s work created during his stay at the Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara. Commissioned by the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, and currently housed in the palace’s premises, history has it that Varma was invited to paint the portrait of Sayajirao III, the Gaekwad of Baroda. A special studio was set up for him in the palace and he created two dozen canvases depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
                      “Raja Ravi Varma is one of the best artists India ever produced and the collection at the museum is the best in the country. It was Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad’s idea to create this line,” says Mandu Hingurao, curator of the museum. Each of the prints come with a certificate that gives the buyer details like the name and method of painting. Pieces include depictions of Sairandhri (a disguise of Draupadi from the Mahabharata), princess Damayanthi and more. Apart from wall hangings, also on sale are coasters, magnets, trays, cushion covers and coffee mugs, all bearing prints of Varma’s works.
                      Till April 21. Rs 550 upwards. Details: jaypore.com
                      —Rashmi Rajagopal

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