From a cultural festival to playing chess and kite action along the coast, this season is about getting ahead of the game
For the festival of Onam, Pondy-based designer Viji Joy, of That Thou Art, has brought out a special Kasavu collection. Featuring tops, short skirts and maxi dresses—with contemporary motifs like flowers, and lines in reds, blues and browns —it uses the traditional white-and-gold Kerala kasavu borders. Available at her store in Pondicherry and online at Timri. From Rs 2,500 onwards. Details: lovetimri.com, facebook.com/thathouart
Spot colourful kites dotting the
sky next week along the East Coast. The second edition of the Puducherry International Kite Festival kicks off at the Uopalam New Port Ground. The festival, organised by the Pondicherry Tourism Department, will have a kite-making workshop, a race, an exhibition and recital of poems on kites. Registrations close this weekend. September 3-6. Details: 9895455115
La Pasta World is ushering in their one-year anniversary by introducing three new sauces. The two tangy reds (made with rich tomato and chilli) and the creamy white (with herbs) are from their own special homemade Italian recipes and will feature on their menu starting Monday. They are also adding to their dessert menu, and we like their chocolate panforte. Details: 0413 4209629
Pondicherry is hosting its first international rapid chess tournament, organised by the Pondicherry State Chess Association and the All India Chess Federation. Starting tomorrow, the two-day tournament is open to all and promises the champion a Rs 1,00,000 prize, to be presented by former chief minister, O Paneerselvam. At Arumugathirumananilayam Hall, from 8 am onwards. Rs 700. Details: 9629587291
American author and speaker Byron Katie is holding a two-day retreat on wellness, The Work of Byron Katie, at Saracon in Auroville. Starting tomorrow the workshop will address issues such as concentration, anxiety, lifestyle diseases and stress management. Her programme will also include breathing exercises, mind workouts and tips on how to strike a work-play balance. Rs 1,500. Details: 9843948288
Date with Dayal
Jipmer Pondicherry is hosting their annual cultural fest, Spandan ’15. Flagging off with a marathon called Endurance3.0, and competitions through the week—arts (tribal pot painting, cloth art), music, film making and dance—the highlights of the fest include a performance by singer Benny Dayal on September 2 and violinist Balabhaskar the day after. The event will also see the rock band Girish and the Chronicles perform. Details: 9659123601
At the new Popeyee’s restaurant in Auroville find crepes, shakes and a menu for children
Auroville has yet another new restaurant. Tucked away on the road leading to the experimental township, Popeyee’s Restaurant, a cafe and snack bar, is targeted at children. With a picture of Popeye (the sailor) at the entrance, along with some quirky wall art, soft toys and board games—like snakes and ladders, and ludo—placed strewn around, the cafe has nailed the kid-friendly ambience. “Children are the most difficult to please, so we decided to target them. Our Nutella honey crepes, in shapes of animals, air planes and cartoon characters, are a huge hit” says Dhanasekara, the chef and co-owner who previously worked with the Park Sheraton before partnering with software engineer (and friend) Shaktivel Vijay to begin the cafe a fortnight ago.
Insisting that grown ups won’t feel left out, he says, “We have a separate menu of crispy chicken, steaks and sides. So far the clientele comprises tourists, and they love our desserts. We feature a lot of chocolate (keeping children in mind) and our home-made chocolate cakes are selling fast.” Healthy food is a criteria. The crepes and cakes are made with organic whole wheat flour and they don’t use baking powder.
We decide to try the chef’s recommendations: Nutella honey crepes washed down with cold mocha coffee (they source organic coffee beans from Yercaud), followed by a ham sandwich that is heavy on the meat and cheese. “We are planning to introduce some healthy organic shakes and tender coconut ice cream to our menu soon,” says Dhanasekaran, who is also planning to open the restaurant to birthday parties. Easy on the pocket, this is a good stop for a quick bite.
Meal for two Rs 300. Details: 9585338336 Niranjana Hariharanandanan
The new Opus 8 lounge offers an eclectic ambience with signature cocktails and Vietnamese fare
Even if you have 20 minutes in a day to spare, you must be able to fill it with comfort, aesthetic ambience and food for the soul,” says Dominique Rachel Sardell, the owner of Neelam Kural Atelier du Fil (art gallery), who recently opened Opus 8 cafe and lounge on Capitaine Marius Xavier road. The name, referring to a ‘musical composition’, is the perfect coming together of a painter-designer (Sardell), a trained mixologist (her son David) from England, a barista (Mellisa Zerdow) from Australia and a chef (Nikola Fuster) from Paris. “I wanted art, books, music, a cafe and a lounge all under the same roof, so people can simply let go. It was a detour from my art gallery, but in a logical way,” shares Sardell. Armed with a specialised degree in art restoration from Paris, she took over an old two-storey Tamil style house last year and hand painted it with silver filigree on the walls and gold detailing on the floors. The rooftop lounge has a traditional catamaran,which she picked up from the East Coast. With comfy cushions strewn around and bathed in blue lighting,then is their dogs, George and Opus, who greet guests at the door.
From the shaker
With 24 unique cocktails on offer, David’s latest addition is the cafe cocktail—a blend of coffee and cognac. “Besides the classics, the popular ones include the honey dew and cucumber gin martini and the strawberry and mint daiquiri,” says Sardell. They complement Opus 8’s global cuisine, with Thai and Vietnamese influences, especially the Bánh mi sandwich, roasted honey and chicken camembert, chicken tajine and caprese salad with rice pilaf. “We have pork and chicken sausages, butter grilled onions and baby potatoes in Samuraï (mayonnaise with harissa) sauce,” adds the 62-year-old. Playing reggae and jazz, their Wednesday Mojito nights (buy one get one free) are a hot favourite with young corporates and college goers, she adds. “It is an intimate crowd and we build a personal rapport with all our guests. What I like to see are women coming alone, to have a drink and unwind. We always watch over them and ensure they are safely sent off in cabs too,” Sardell concludes.
Open from 6 pm. Meal for two at Rs 1,000. Cocktails start from Rs 300 onwards. Details: 0413 420 0383
Adorned with abstract paintings (done by Sardell), Kashmiri carpets and papier-mâché pots, the cafe on the first floor has collectibles she’s picked up from Orissa and Kashmir while on her India tour in 2009. The bright airy room, with a panelled library on one side and a computer station on the other, opens as early as 7.30 am, and serves all-day breakfasts and brunches. Their breakfast includes beans, toast and eggs, eggs Benedict, and muesli in yoghurt besides ham and bacon sandwich platters served with coffee. Barista Zerdow goes the extra mile by packing coffee blends in little thermos flasks for take-away orders. The cafe regularly hosts Sunday brunches, serving popular hits like roast turkey, pan bagnat and organic chocolates from Maison & Co, Auroville. Their poultry, meat, eggs and vgetables are sourced from organic farms in Pondicherry.
Neil Nitin Mukesh talks action, fitness routine and why it pays to be the bad guy in cinema
Neil Nitin Mukesh is thrilled with the massive, high-octane action sequence that wraps up Sooraj Barjatya’s Salman Khan starrer, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP). Set to hit theatres by Diwali, the action scene is directed by Hollywood’s Greg Prowell. “The sword fighting sequence is one-of-a-kind and we haven’t seen action like that on the big screen in some time now,” says Mukesh, adding, “Ever since I was a kid with my action figure of He-Man and his sword, I’ve always wanted to do something like this. Prowell has executed it very well. It was more like a dance actually, with coordinated and graceful movements. After this, I hope to do a really hardcore battle sequence.”
In PRDP, a family drama that sees Khan in a double role, Mukesh essays the role of Ajay Singh, Khan’s younger brother. A prince and a rebel without a cause, he is also the antagonist in the film.
The 33-year-old recently bagged the award for Best Actor in a Negative Role at the South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA), for AR Murugadoss’ Kaththi—a film that also marked Mukesh’s debut in Tamil cinema. He says Kaththi came at the right time, when he’d wanted to move out of his comfort zone. “I was intimidated because the language and people were new; debuting makes you attentive. The best part about my character in Kaththi was that he’s not typically a baddie. When you don’t expect him to do something bad, he does it,” shares Mukesh.
After two stints as a child actor, it was Sriram Raghavan’s 2007 Johnny Gaddaar that saw Mukesh on his official outing as an actor and an antagonist – a role that has served him well. “Being bad has always been good for me. Except for Players, most of my other baddies are quite situational. I like playing bad guys because it’s not a very easy job — you have to understand the psyche of the character,” he shares.
While negotiations for his Telugu debut, with Bahubali’s Prabhas are still on, in the pipeline are Wazir with Amitabh Bachchan and his new music single. “Initially, everyone was confused about whether Mukesh’s (his grandfather, the renowned playback singer) grandson was making his debut as an actor or a singer. Now that people know I act, I’m bringing out a single by the end of this year,” he says. He will also been seen in an international party mix with West Indies cricketer, Dwayne Bravo.
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo releases in November.
Need to know
On fitness: My body is my factory, my product. This is what I have to sell. I maintain my diet, but I never say no to milk chocolate. I don’t endorse artificial help either because you could have a six-pack, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit,” says Mukesh. Cardio, he shares, is a must. “I train six times a week for two hours daily, with focus on one body part daily. And my cardio isn’t limited to the treadmill. It could be swimming, cycling—anything that pushes you,” he says. Sunday is his cheat day, and he usually likes to get in some extra hours of sleep, adds Mukesh.
Ricki and the Flash
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Meryl Streep, Rick Springfeild, Mamie Gummer
Ricki Rendazzo (Streep), a wife and mother, abandons her family to follow her dreams of rock ‘n’ roll stardom in California. Returning years later, she is faced with a dysfunctional family. How will she set things right?
Did you know: The story is loosely based on writer Diablo Cody’s real-life mother-in-law who has been singing rock ‘n’ roll for many years.
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif
A political thriller set post the 26/11 Mumbai bombings, it follows Daniyal (Khan), a counter-terrorism agent, whose quest for justice takes him to countries like the US, Middle East and Europe. But he soon realises that his mission has a heavy personal price to pay.
Did you know: Khan and Kaif reportedly learnt Kurdish and Arabic for their roles. In a first, the promotional song, Afghan Jalebi, shows Kaif surrounded by dancers, but she doesn’t dance.
Director: Mohan Raja
Cast: Jayam Ravi, Nayantara, Aravind Swamy
The action entertainer is reportedly an extension of Ravi’s previous film, Velayudham, which follows an IPS officer’s journey to uproot evil. With song and dance, action sequences and a romantic angle, it has all the makings of a pot boiler.
Did you know: Director M Raja makes a comeback— teaming up with his brother Ravi for the sixth time. Team Indulge
Ridhima Sud on her career switch from Wall Street to the silver screen
Dil Dhadakne Do came with a heavy-duty, ensemble cast, but all of us took note of fashionista Noorie who even “lost her temper with dignity”. Played by former Wall Street banker-turned-B-town debutante, Ridhima Sud has been a busy actress since. She’s bagged a three-film deal with Soojit Sircar and John Abraham’s production house and has already begun shooting for the first, a wedding drama (reportedly titled Satra Ko Shaadi Hai) co-starring Barun Sobti and Harshavardhan Rane. Up next is Madhurima Anand’s Kajariya, which sees her in the role of a journalist. Sud says she signed up for an acting course in LA, with Leonardo Di Caprio’s acting coach Larry Moss, because she had grown restless in her Wall Street job. Admitting that she was nervous acting with experienced actors like Ranveer Singh (she only had a week’s time to prepare), she says her family did not take her seriously initially. “My naani she thought no one would marry me and they were worried about the stability factor. But now they are in full support,” says the political science and economics graduate (NYU).
Sud has had several interesting associations with cinema. Besides being Toby Mcguire’s (Spider Man) classmate in the acting class, she was production assistant to second unit director, Alfonso Gomez Rajon at the Delhi schedule of Eat Pray Love. “I showed up at the set every day, asking to be part of the team. They were so fed up by the end, they created a job for me,” reminisces the 24-year-old, who has also acted in the Oscar-nominated Ballad of Rustom. Looking up to Anushka Sharma for being the youngest producer in Bollywood, Sud hopes to follow in her footsteps and turn producer for international content, besides trying her hand at an action flick in the future.
Kajariya is slated to release in September.
With short films getting them recognition do first time film makers need film schools and mentors?
short films today are the go-to launchpad for filmmakers. Aided by the affordability of DSLR cameras, portable edit suites, and a willing YouTube forum, for the right visibility, filmmakers have a quick pass to the big screen. An example is Imtiaz Ali, who used to direct short films for Zee TV’s Rishtey before directing his full-length feature. The Tamil industry has several such directors—like Karthik Subbaraj, who got his lucky break with the short film Kaatchipizhai (which got noticed at Vijay TV’s Naalaya Iyankunar). But does this mean film schools and apprenticeships with directors are going out of favour? New-age directors and a few mentors get talking.
“Shorts, the final lesson”
Mohan quit engineering to do a one-year course in editing and sound at LVR Prasad Academy. He then used short films to perfect his art. “Having only assisted one director till date, I think directing short films is useful as it shows producers and actors what they’re in for,” says the director who helmed five short films for Vijay TV’s Naalaya Iyankunar. “My film Kadhalil Sudhapuvadhu Yeppadi was noticed by cinematographer Nirav Shah and actor Siddharth who agreed to produce its full-length feature. I also used YouTube to market my short films,” says 28-year-old, whose Dhanush-starrer, Maari, is playing in theatres now.
“Technical know-how, a must”
After working for a couple of years as an assistant for films like Parthiban Kanavu, Manikandan joined Mindscreen Institute to master cinematography. “Though I knew how the industry works, I needed to master a technical skill—be it sound, editing or cinematography, which is a must for any film maker. Film schools not only expose you to a multitude of films, they also channelise your creativity and help you develop a point of view,” he says, adding that the Mindscreen stint helped him put together his first short film, Wind. “It is my visiting card, showing my credentials to the industry, which is how Kaaka Muttai happened,” he says.
“Students confident, seek knowledge”
According to Menon, until just a few years ago, aspirants had to work under a director, which ended in a case of “hero worship”. “This endangers the possibility of having one’s own style. But nowadays we have more students making their own films, with their own money. And film schools only help them gain the knowledge and technical finesse they require,” he says. In 2006, when Menon started Mindscreen in a 3,000 sq ft space in Mylapore, people had questioned how he would compete with an LV Prasad or FTII. “But 18 batches later, I can proudly say it is not the size of the building, but that one student (the likes of Manikandan and Sidhartha Nuni) who’s done a breakthrough film, that defines the institute’s success,” he says.
“Production lessons on the set”
“When I was assisting R Udaikumar, I remember an assistant telling him he wanted to get into films because he’d failed school and couldn’t get a job. Back then, filmmaking was the last option, but now it is a qualified profession,” says Mohan. However he believes that the production aspects of film making—like how not to exceed a call sheet—can only be learnt if you assist in a film or two. “The new crop of directors have a point of view so strong that they break through the clutter with their short films itself. Seeing Manikandan’s Wind, I knew he’d make it,” he concludes.
Meet Sunil Prabhakar, the first Indian to embark on the famous Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
A race around the world is no easy feat even undertaken by a sailor in his 20s. So when 58-year-old Sunil Prabhakar tells us that he’s embarking on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race that lasts a total of 325 days, we are impressed. “I have been sailing small boats since I was 18 at the Royal Madras Yacht Club. I own a vintage wood boat and have owned and sailed Lasers and participated in the nationals in India. But the clipper race and ocean racing is completely different from sailing small boats around the buoys,” admits Prabhakar, who applied to participate in the Clipper after being inspired by the Volvo Races.
Starting at the Katharine Docks in London this Sunday (August 30), the race will see 12 teams of amateur sailors crossing six oceans (40,000 miles) in the world’s longest yacht race. And to compete, every sailor must undergo four levels of training. “Each level is about a week. The first is basics. Level two was mostly offshore and we went through all the evolutions out in the English channel. Level three was building on level two and some spinnaker (sail) work. Level four was with our race skipper and team,” shares Prabhakar, who feels that the challenge will be the North Pacific and the Southern Ocean where the teams will battle severe weather.
This journey will take Prabhakar to Rio in Brazil, Capetown in South Africa. Australia (where he will compete in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day), Vietnam, China, Seattle and New York in USA, Derry Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Den Helder in the Netherlands before returning to London. And if that sounds interesting, this is when you sign up for the 2017-18 race. Details: clipperroundtheworld.com Ryan Peppin
Illustrator Marcos Guardiola, on his use of colour, type and travelling with a sketch book instead of a DSLR
Every illustrator must develop an individual style, says Spaniard Marcos Guardiola, who is two months old in Chennai. Here to work on a project for Tara Books, this self taught illustrator has been in the profession since 2011 and illustrates books and newspapers in Madrid, his hometown. “It is a book for adults,” he begins about his current undertaking. “Till now, I have illustrated three books and all of them were for children. But I try to keep my illustrations relevant for all ages. For me the illustration is the same, but the audience will discover different things from it,” he insists. To Guardiola, it is about having an identity that people can relate to and he carries a sketch book no matter where he goes. “This is my photography. I don’t sketch every day, but I sketch the things that I see in the street,” says the 38-year-old, who has done 40 sketches in the 60 days he been in the city. “Every illustration is a learning experience. You have to read up extensively, only then can you come up with an interesting concept,” he concludes.
My favourite combinations are red with blue and orange with green. Both are very aesthetic
One of the books I’ve illustrated is Cada Pulpo Con Su Pulpa. In each fold, pairs of animals emerge linked in a reading spiral, forming a dizzy exquisite corpse
When I have to use letters, I use freehand. In some books, the designer decides the typography, but I recommend freehand
For political illustrations, it all depends. Sometimes you can use the colours of the country’s flag if it’s about a particular country
My project with Tara Books started with some text that Karl Marx wrote when he was young. It’s about money and so I’ve tried to stay away from communism as much as possible
I have sketched a temple and some people whom I have found interesting around the city
I admire the works of Spanish illustrator Pablo Amargo and Portuguese illustrator Andre Taloba. The former works with concepts and comes out with brilliant ideas. The latter does a lot of work in the US and publishes even in the New York Times. He uses colours and textures very differently
After a long sabbatical, Vikranth is back on screen as the hero in Thaakka Thaakka. “It’s an intense action drama and the role is written to suit me. It’s also my brother Sanjeev’s debut film as director and co-producer.
So we have a lot at stake here,” says Vikranth. Abhinaya and Arvind (DOP of Demonte Colony) essay crucial characters in the film, which also has a fresh lot of technicians. Hopefully, the film (in theatres today) will be a career booster for the actor.
Director Raja and his brother, actor Jayam Ravi, come together after a brief hiatus for Thani Oruvan. For the first time, Ravi plays a cop. “My script is novel and path-breaking. Here, my hero selects his potential enemy, instead of the usual personal vendetta angle where the villain acts and the hero reacts to him,” says Raja. Releasing today, the film has an ensemble cast comprising Nayanthara, Arvind Samy, Ganesh Venkatram and Harish Uthaman.
Slice of life
His films are few and far between. Now Jeevan is back with the action thriller Adhibar (releasing today), directed by Surya Prakash. Sharing frames with Vidya, Ranjith, Nanda, Samudhirakani and Richard, Jeevan plays an NRI who starts a business, but is taken for a ride by someone he trusts. The film follows how he bounces back. “The plot is based on a real life incident. And it’s the scary realistic scenario that got me hooked to it,” says the actor on why he selected the script.
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