Monthly Archives: September 2015
Think of Bengaluru and the word ‘startup city’ comes to mind. Meet these dynamic entrepreneurs whose innovations are making waves in the city, and beyond. By Barkha Kumari &Nikita Puri
BENGALURU continues to cement its place as the Startup Capital of the country and grab eyeballs of the tech czars in the Silicon Valley. Last year, three of the city startups, Little Eye Labs, Impermium and BookPad got acquired by Facebook, Google and Yahoo respectively. Earlier this year, in January, Twitter made its first Indian buy with Bengaluru’s ZipDial. And, Twitter is at it again. Its co-founder Biz Stone has picked up another city-based startup for a big investment. This spotlight on Bengaluru can be credited to an ever-growing army of young entrepreneurs, either born and bred in the city, or those who eventually make it their home for better prospects in life. We meet a few under-30 entrepreneurs who make the city proud.
All things Women
Startup: Eat.Shop.Love | Founder: Oindrila Dasgupta, 27
USP: ‘Moments’ — the package offers end-to-end solutions for women to host a date, a party for friends or a grand bachelorette
Investment highlight: $3.5 million | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Take up one task at a time and see it through with perfection
At 27, Oindrila Dasgupta is a mother of two, and heads an online fashion brand, Eat.Shop.Love (ESL), which she founded last July along with her design executive husband, Shayak Sen. Most recently, she’s been in the thick of opening ESL’s new office in Mumbai. But her uber-busy self doesn’t usually show through. That’s because she likes to be organised. Dasgupta credits this lesson to her former boss at JWT Bangalore. She used to work in the media industry before ESL, a website that sells curated fashion apparel and accessories for women, came calling.
ESL, especially its most sought-after product called Moments, is an extension of her philosophy — Women must pamper and look after themselves. More so, if you are an entrepreneur.
“Once in a while, us women, want to be our own queens, right? With ESL, we are trying to create an ecosystem, where if a woman wants anything, from a cab, a dine-out option, a dress, or a piece of jewellery to flowers, she can get it all,” says the CEO, who conceived this idea during her first pregnancy in 2013. She was studying social media marketing at IIM-Bangalore then.
Here’s how Moments is helping ESL stay different from other e-commerce sites in India. Moments offers end-to-end packages for a woman planning to organise a date, a bachelorette party, or rejuvenate herself in a spa. The USP fetched ESL $3.5 million funding this May. “We are already selling in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, but we want to be in the top five sellers in these markets. I also plan to make Moments bigger,” Dasgupta shares.
Gone in 60 Seconds
Startup: Headout | Founders: Varun Khona (25), Vikramjit Singh (27) and Suren Sultania (26)
USP: Easiest, fastest on-demand travel app
Investment highlight: $1.8 million seed funding | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: No matter how difficult it sounds, if your gut says it’s the right thing to do, just take the plunge
When city-based Varun Khona and Suren Sultania were travelling across France, they had the one problem that every tourist faces – how do you decide where to go, and how to go? “The pain travellers experience in a new city, that fundamental construct remains the same no matter which country you are in,” says Khona. And it was in this pursuit of “looking for a solution that was easy and made sense” that Headout was born, with Vikramjit Singh joining in. As a mobile marketplace for experiences, the app is currently live in New York and Las Vegas. “We aggregate tours and activities in these cities. The idea is that we take care of the entire discovery angle, and you trust us to know what’s the coolest thing the city has to offer. And our transaction process is simple – it takes just 60 seconds,” says Khona.
The team triumphed over their initial financial challenges pretty quick too. “We launched in July 2014 and got tremendous response in the first three months — we grew almost 100 per cent month over month. By September, we were selected by 500 Startups (Silicon Valley seed fund and accelerator). We believe that fund-raising isn’t a challenge for a company that’s doing well,” Khona shares. What began with three founders, and one intern, Headout today has offices in New York, San Francisco and Bengaluru. “In the next few months, you’ll see us live across 10 big US cities. Early next year, we plan to launch in Dubai and Singapore. We’ve already served a few tens of thousands of users; each month, we see about 50,000 new users signing up,” elaborates Khona. The app is likely to launch in India by 2017. “The reason for that is we don’t have enough quality suppliers that can provide enough experiences,” he explains.
Startup: Practo | Founder : Shashank ND, 28
USP: Commitment towards improving healthcare for both doctors and patients. The largest healthcare platform in Asia, and does not use third party data
Investment highlight: $125 mn in three rounds of funding | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Founders should share the same line of thought of where they want the company to be — one year from now, and 10 years from now
In 2009, when Shashank ND asked his doctor to mail him a copy of his medical report, he said couldn’t do it because the specific software didn’t have an email button. “Email was widely used then yet no one had thought of putting an email button in the software,” says Shashank, an alumnus of National Institute of Technology, Surathkal. His batchmate, Abhinav Lal, came on board, and in 2009 they launched Practo Ray, a cloud-based clinic management software. In 2013, the duo launched Practo.com — a doctor discovery platform that helps consumers find the right doctors and book instant appointments.
Currently, Practo lists over 2,00,000 healthcare practitioners, 5,000 diagnostic centers, and the idea is to expand from 35 Indian cities and three countries to over 100 Indian cities, and 10 countries across the globe by March 2016. “Practo comes from ‘practice online’ — it originated from our intent to enable healthcare practitioners to bring their practice online,” says Shashank, founder and CEO. The biggest challenge was to source reliable information about doctors and clinics, he shares. “We decided to build our own healthcare map of the world. We have an on-ground team that goes street by street, city by city, to get information, which is then put through a rigorous verification system to ensure we have genuine doctors with accurate details,” he says.
Another big challenge, he says, is building the right infrastructure to scale the product. “We’re growing fast — from April to now, our search volume has grown 6x! So the infrastructure, servers etc. have to keep up, while maintaining the highest levels of security and encryption,” he elaborates.
Twenty-seven-year-old Varun Agarwal has failed nothing in his career but his engineering degree. His first venture, at the age of 19, Last Minute Films has close to two million YouTube views. It also fetched him work in Bollywood. He later footed a social media marketing firm, Reticular with much success. It was followed by a college merchandise line, Alma Mater, in 2009. Later, he turned author with the book, How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company, and sold 2,00,000 copies. Alma Mater, co-founded with college friend Rohn Malhotra, raised an undisclosed amount two months ago, and half-a-million dollar in 2012. “We kept failing in everything you call success today. But yes, there are tricks and life hacks. Writing the book was the hack. I thought and researched on what was the best way to spread the word about your company. Well, it is to tell its story, so I wrote the book and maintained a blog. We spread the word without investing a single penny in marketing. That’s our USP,” says Agarwal, who’s writing a sequel now.
Location: The Ritz-Carlton, Bengaluru
Startup: Aisle | Founder: Able Joseph, 28
USP: Screening of profiles put up by users
Investment highlight: $100,000 | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Learn a lot of skills – from coding, handling finance and product designing to marketing and talking to people
For testimonials of the success of the matchmaking website, aisle.com, look no further than its new office in Indiranagar. Able Joseph, its founder and CEO, is getting married in three months. As soon as the 28-year-old relaxed his rule of not looking up profiles on his own website last December, he found a life partner in Jancy Mathew. Then there’s Bivin Benny, 32, who joined Aisle as a co-founder along with Razee Marikar, 30, this January. He also found a match. “All my friends, who’ve signed up with us, have found ‘somebody’ now,” says Joseph beaming like a proud parent, quantifying the success of Aisle, targeted at modern, affluent Indians. Currently operating out of Bengaluru and Mumbai, Aisle scored $100,000 in seed funding this January, within just six months of operations. It has 26,000-plus active users at the moment.
“After a break-up in 2013, I also signed up on a matrimonial site. After going through hundreds of profiles, I had a feeling ‘I will never get married’,” Joseph laughs. Around that time, he realised finding a partner is a big challenge. It needs to be solved.
So, what works for Aisle, when there are tons of matchmaking sites? “We weed out almost half the profiles created on Aisle. I cannot elaborate on how we do it; that’s our USP. We basically look for Indians who are global citizens; if we put like-minded people under one umbrella, chances of finding a partner are high,” he explains.
“We recently launched a stand-alone product called Planner, where you can find wedding photographers, choreographers or planners, across India. This will soon be available as an app too. We also intend to make dates happen by partnering with Uber and Zomato. From meeting online, booking a cab to finding a restaurant for the first date, we want Aisle to facilitate all of it,” says Joseph.
Serial investor Prajakt Raut, who is also the founder of New Delhi-based Applyifi (which connects startups and investors using an online pitch deck), tells us what investors look for in a startup before closing the deal
Quality of the team: This is the most critical component. Investors prefer teams which have diverse yet complementary skill sets. For example a techie, a marketing person and a salesman would make for a nice team. The founders should be passionate about their ideas. Part-time founders, or founders who are doing more than one venture, don’t interest us.
Scalability: If a business is likely to remain small, despite being highly profitable, it is not going to excite investors.
Market size: This is quite crucial because we invest our money, time and energy in businesses, which are in early stages
and which offer significant headroom for growth.
Quality of the product: The product or service should stand a reasonable chance to become a dominant player in that segment.Your venture may meet all the above criteria but still not be relevant to a section of investors. That’s because investors like to go for a category of startups that they have an understanding of, and where they can add value based on their work experience.
The Q&A Genius
Startup: Lookup | Founder: Deepak Ravindran, 28
USP: First-of-its-kind hyperlocal app in India, which connects shopkeepers with customers on a chat platform
Investment highlight: $3 million | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Start early in your career
Here’s why Lookup is spiking investors’ interest, including Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone. In fact, it will be Stone’s first-ever investment in any Indian startup. Deepak Ravindran’s Lookup helps shopkeepers, who run stores in your locality, do business over WhatsApp. Alternatively, it lets customers ask them, ‘Do you have this dress material?’, ‘How much is the atta today?’, ‘Can I get a small pouch of Bru?’ and more, by chatting, exchanging photos for reference and, even smileys to close the deals.
With 60,000 shopkeepers signed up, and over 10,000 users downloading the app daily, this first-of-its kind hyperlocal app has fast gained acceptance. It’s ruffling up duplication as well. “There’s always the pros and cons of being the first mover. When we started in December, Lookup was a new concept in India. Now, I see a hundred similar ones. There’s even almost a clone of our app already,” Ravindran laughs.
His confidence comes from experience. As Ravindran says, he’s made a career by only “answering questions”. It’s what he is passionate about. After dropping out of college in Kerala in 2008, he started SMS Gyan under Innoz Technologies. Here, users, who had no access to Google, could ask questions over SMSes and get answers. Years later, he footed Quest in the US. Yet again, users could do Q & A amongst themselves. Unlike SMSGyan, Quest could not catch up. But Ravindran saw an opportunity in this failure.
“Many shopkeepers were doing business over Quest. This lingered at the back of my mind. Then I happened to travel to China last year, I saw WeChat (a chat platform like WhatsApp) being used for everything and by everyone, fro m businessmen, politicians to even schools. I wanted to explore the usefulness of this in India,” explains Ravindran, about the birth of Lookup.
Pursuit of Happiness
Startup: Zoojoo.be |Founder: Avinash Saurabh, 30
USP: A habit-forming platform based on behaviour sciences
Investment highlight: $1million in first round of funding | Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: As Richard Branson says, “Screw it, let’s do it.”
Designed to create long- term wellness habits, Zoojoo.be uses game elements to engage users. Knowing how much companies around the world are spending on their employees’ wellness, mobile and web app, Zoojoo.be has gone the B2B2C (business to business to consumer) way. “I love the idea of taking learnings from games and applying it to non-gaming, business scenarios. Our mission is to measurably improve the happiness levels of people. Our mother matrix (or how we measure our success) is happiness. And habits go a long way in making people happy,” says founder and CEO of Zoojoo.be, Avinash Saurabh. (The name is inspired from Rajinikanth’s dialogue: ‘Yena Raskalla, jujube’). People struggle to form good habits because traditionally, shares Saurabh, habits are associated with motivation, or guilt. The platform presents good habits as virtual challenges, and goal reinforcement comes in through peers. Be it jogging, swimming or yoga, on Zoojoo.be, you could choose the activity of your liking and then share your progress. Currently, the platform has over 35,000 users across clients such as Mindtree, Unisys and GE and has operations in India and the UAE. Originally from Patna, Saurabh quit his MNC job knowing he wanted to start something, but wasn’t clear of ‘what’. “I worked on a blog for six months, and the intent of that blog was to interview entrepreneurs and CEOs and learn from them. The process helped me meet great people, who went on to support the company,” he adds.
|Our mission is to measurably improve the happiness levels of people. Our mother matrix (or how we measure our success) is happiness. And habits go a long way in making people happy
From the editor’s desk:
With the many services being rolled out each day, now is a great time to be a consumer in Bengaluru, the country’s startup capital. Everywhere you look, someone has been inspired by the entrepreneurial ecosystem. And why not, when we have role models like Bengaluru-based Flipkart and redBus, or the easy acquisition of startups by global internet giants? The young population here is quick to turn ideas into companies, be it food, healthcare or fashion, and bounce back just as fast if the venture fails. Easy access to coworking spaces with networking opportunities and high speed internet have helped their cause. MadRat Games is one such outfit. It is run by husband-wife team Rajat Dhariwal and Madhumita Halder, who create offline games to ensure children grow up calm and wise. The IIT graduates taught sixth-graders at Rishi Valley School over four years, and realised the importance of play and game-based learning. Earlier this year, they designed jigsaw puzzles with an element of discovery and believe the life skills their games offer will help in buzzy Bengaluru. ‘‘We have fallen in love with the startup culture here and the coworking spaces,’’ confirms Dhariwal, promising ‘super suits’ with wearable tech next.
Elsewhere, on HSR Layout, Priyanka Ella Lorena Lama, 24, finds it exhilarating to be surrounded by startups with a ‘‘shared sense of purpose’’. Hailing from Darjeeling, she opted for Bengaluru as her base after a course at NIFT here. Just two seasons old, Lama showcased her fluid silk kimonos and dresses, titled Abstinence, at a trade show in Paris this month, and is already retailing in Portugal, New York and Italy. Promoting slow fashion with handmade garments and organic fibres, she says, ‘‘To love my clothes, a person must interact with them.’’
To mark our fifth anniversary this week, many such entrepreneurs share their inspiring and relevant ideas. And we celebrate all that’s great about living in this city – good weather, good drink, fantastic people. Thanks for reading, Bengaluru.
Bengaluru is a great testing ground for all sorts of businesses; competition is not as cut throat, but it’s healthy. It’s also a city that nurtures creative thoughts and ideas.
-Aindrita Ray, actor
I would like to see bands like AC/DC, Rush and Pearl Jam in Bengaluru. Companies take the easy route of bringing commercial DJs instead of a band of 4 to 5 members.
-Vachan Chinnappa, DJ
I’d be thrilled if Bobbi Brown were to open a Bengaluru store. I stock up on her products when travelling abroad but having easier access would be even better!
-Sanchita Ajjampur, fashion designer
I want to see Eli Saab, Ralph & Rousso and John Varvatos in the city. Also, Sweaty Betty — active wear for women. The
y aim to inspire empowerment through fitness.
-Dayana Erappa, model
For me, Bengaluru was pub city, rock city and hanging-endlessly-in-Coffee House city. But that was 10 years ago. Now it’s Ranga Shankara and ‘almost home’ city.
-Kalki Koechlin, actor
Theatre is not always about comedy. The audience should be more receptive to all genres and become more demanding of the quality of acting, and directing.
-Arundhati Nag, theatreperson
I’d like to see relaxed deadlines so that people can enjoy a good meal in peace. And also, lowered taxes on fresh produce so that local growers are encouraged.
-Gaev Mehta, GM, Escape Hotels & Spa
There are 120 food startups in Bengaluru today. And, 44 startups catering just to laundry. They all are answering similar problems. I wish these entrepreneurs were given a chance to work together on one problem. This way, they can roll out a far better product for their customers.
-Rohan Patnaik, co-founder of RedCooker
Our startup ecosystem should explore opportunities in non-tech sectors as well, such clean energy, education, affordable heathcare and small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Ganesh, serial entrepreneur
Milk adulteration is often the cause of poor health among young kids. I’d like to see a device that can check the quality of milk at every step of the supply chain.
-Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT
I’ve been coming to Bengaluru since the ’80s. This is where I first ate Andhra food, had my first appam, and discovered the range of the great cuisines of South India.
-VIr Sanghvi, journalist & food critic
I would like to see H & M and Uniqlo in the city, because I am all about high street labels. And they would do well here too!
-Karan Medappa, model
My dream gig in 2016 will be something that brings together Karnataka’s folk art (music, dance and others) in a way that’s appealing to the youth.
-Raghu Dixit, singer/songwriter
I’d like to see Polaroid become as popular as it was. The experience of photography would be immensely richer with a wider availability of forms of Polaroid.
-Shibu Arakkal, photographer
I wish for an app that would automatically spray paint a car that’s disobeying traffic rules, or when it is parked incorrectly.
-Darius Sunawala, RJ
I’d like to see Bengaluru growing along with its artistes and hope educational institutions recognise art as an integral part of their growth.
-Rukmini Vijayakumar, dancer-choreographer
Indie films need open minds and an intellectual audience, and Bengaluru has that. They will definitely bring in originality, and newer ideas.
-Meghana Gaonkar, actor
From the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post to top actresses, no one has escaped the business magnate’s acid tongue
All about size
In an interview with The New York Times, the 69-year-old took it upon himself to comment on supermodel Heidi Klum’s size. While admitting that he sometimes goes a “little bit far”, Trump did not hesitate to say, “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.” A day after that, the America’s Got Talent judge gave a tongue-in-cheek reply with a video posted on Twitter. The 12-second clip showed the 49-year-old at a photo shoot, wearing a white T-shirt with number 10 on it. Then a man wearing a Trump mask sneaks up from behind, snatches the number 10 off her tee, revealing 9.99. Klum followed it up with a tweet, “#TrumpHasSpoken #sadly #9.99 #NoLongerA10 #IHadAGoodRun#donaldtrump#HeidiTrumps
The Fox News debate in August caught everyone’s attention for all the wrong reasons. Trump lashed out at anchor Megyn Kelly, with tweets writing her off as unprofessional. Referring to a 10-day vacation she took, Trump tweeted, “@megynkelly must have had a terrible vacation, she is really off her game. Was afraid to confront Dr Cornel West. No clue on immigration!” It was a dig at Kelly’s discussion with West on the show. He re-tweeted a message from one of his followers, too, that called Kelly a bimbo. Trump also riled Kelly’s fellow Fox host, Bill O’Reilly, by tweeting, “@oreillyfactor, why don’t you have some knowledgeable talking heads on your show for a change instead of the same old Trump haters.” This fight sure seems like it will
When Fox News debate host Megyn Kelly asked Trump about past comments— describing women as fat pigs and slobs—he was unfazed, replying, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”. In fact, the Trump-O’Donnel bashing has been going on since 2006, when Trump called the American comedian “a disgusting person inside and out” and said she was a “slob” with a “fat, ugly face”. He crossed all boundaries when he tweeted about her engagement with then girlfriend Michelle Rounds, saying he feels sorry for Rosie’s new partner whose parents would be devastated at the thought of their daughter being with @Rosie, a true loser. O’Donnell’s response was, “Wow. You’re an ass.”go a long way.
Line of attack
Trump had a field day bashing a female Republican presidential hopeful during his visit to the Iowa State Fair on August 15. When a reporter asked him about his thoughts on his contender, Carly Fiorina, he said, “She’s a very nice woman. She got fired, she did a terrible job at Hewlett-Packard, she lost in a landslide—other than that, she’s a very nice woman.” Not surprisingly, this rubbed Fiorina the wrong way. However, we were a little let down by her tame response. The next day, she told ABC News that Trump’s gone after just about everybody. “He’s entitled to, obviously,” she stated, adding that Hewlett-Packard is a publicly traded company and the results are there for every body to see.
All for fame
In a recent interview with CNN, lawyer Elizabeth Beck alleged that Trump referred to her as ‘disgusting’ when she requested a break to pump milk for her newborn child during a deposition. Trump responded by calling her a ‘whack-job’ who ‘invented stories’ out of revenge and ‘really knows nothing about me’—despite being featured in cable TV interviews about him. His argument: “How can someone become a Donald Trump expert when I have only sat with her once for a deposition.” The presidential candidate continued, “She is crazy! She wanted to breast pump in front me and it is disgusting.” While Beck seems to have got her share of fame, Trump does not deny any of his comments and sticks by them.
Who’s the clown?
This July, when Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, decided they were no longer going to cover Trump as a political story, but rather as entertainment story, he waged a Twitter war on her and even shot volleys on Facebook. The Republican presidential candidate tweeted that The Huffington Post was a “glorified blog” and that “the liberal clown @ariannahuff told her minions at the money losing @HuffingtonPost to cover me as entertainment. I am #1 in Huff Post Poll.” But this is not a first. Way back in 2012, Trump had launched a series of personal attacks on her on Twitter, after The Huffington Post published an article on how he gets on the wrong side of everyone.
— Compiled by Mayuri J Ravi
This weekend, sit down to a musical and a movie, besides shopping for a sustainable wardrobe
Hamlet in Hindi
This Sunday, watch Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, at Alliance Française de Pondichéry. Set against the backdrop of Kashmir, it follows Haider’s (Shahid Kapoor) search for his father, a doctor who goes missing after being arrested by the Indian army. From 6 pm to 9 pm. Details: 0413 2338146
On the platter
The Grill-Chef’s Special, in Le Dupleix, offers the chef’s special house grill (snapper, prawn and squid), which is popular among the regulars, other options like the London mixed meat grill (chicken, pork and beef) and cottage cheese grills. Rs 450 onwards. Till Sunday, between 7 pm and 11 pm.
Details: 0413 2226999
Taking upcycling to the next level, Auroville-based designer Uma Prajapati has gone zero waste this time. Showcasing her recent line, Upcycle, at her design studio, Upasana (Auroville) and Janaki Store (Pondicherry), she says, “Creating the line was like composing a painting, where we carefully segregated the right coloured fabric. The composition is unique.” The anti-fit collection transforms bits of leftover fabrics into dresses, tunic tops and scarves, and is available in three colours—blue, black and white. Commenting on the future of sustainable fashion, Prajapati says, “Fashion is not there yet. But a lot of young people are looking at such options and, with such concern, I am sure the future will be about sustainable fashion.” Rs 1,900 onwards. Details: 0413 2622939
DakshinaChitra, in collaboration with Lalit Kala Akademi, has brought together 12 artists from across India. Six folk and traditional artists will work alongside six contemporary artists in the ongoing eight-day camp, at the end of which each will create two murals each. Visitors are welcome to watch them brainstorm and create the pieces. At DakshinaChitra, till September 30, from 10 am to 6 pm. Details: 24462435
A mouse’s tale
Enjoy the musical Millidacious, written and directed by Aurovillean Paul. It follows the adventures of a mouse called Milli. The musical will be staged at Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Bharat Nivas. Today and tomorrow at 8 pm, and at 5.30 pm on Sunday. Free tickets available on booking.wattmon.in
Master your voice and body language and learn how to project a confident image at your workplace. Speak to Inspire, a one-day workshop by Australian actor-voice professional Jesse Fox-Allen will also help you learn to communicate precisely and confidently. At Auroville Retreat, on October 3, between 9 am to 5.30 pm. Rs 2,400.
— Team Indulge
Sample the experimental rhythms and Indian influences of Sarah Buechi and Christoph Haberer
With quirky lyrics and experimental beats, Swiss two-piece band, Animata, is all set to enthrall Pondicherry’s jazz connoisseurs next Thursday. Switzerland-based jazz vocalist Sarah Buechi (33) and German percussionist Christoph Haberer (63) met at a project initiated by Kloster Gravenhorst—the German modern art museum had commissioned Haberer to compose music for its 10th anniversary in June 2014. The duo found each other’s philosophy of music interesting and decided to collaborate. Now they are ready with their first album, Animata, to be released in October. “We have created a fusion of sorts by infusing jazz with electronic and even pop,” Buechi says. Interestingly, both artistes have an Indian connect. While Haberer performed with percussionist Sivamani in 2011, Buechi studied with Carnatic vocalist RA Ramamani and mridangam artiste TAS Mani at Karnataka College of Percussion, Bengaluru. Intrigued, we ask if it has influenced her musical style and she admits that there are elements of South Indian classical music in her compositions. “Trying to grasp Carnatic music opened up my view about music and life. The integration of Indian elements—for which we have great appreciation and respect—into our music has to be understood as a playful integration; it is not intended to stick to rules,” she explains. At the concert, expect compositions like Electric Loops, Why, Stars and Fools. Animata will also perform in Goa, Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru next month.
At Aurodhan, on October 1, at 8.30 pm. Details: 0413 2222795
— Ranjitha G
A handy tool for foragers and highly-stressed professionals, ecologist Nina Sengupta’s debut book will see you whipping out both pan and colouring kit
Have you ever thought about the abundant weeds growing in your backyard and if they exist for a reason? To answer this question, Dr Nina Sengupta, who has a PhD focussing on rainforest and natural habitat conservation, foraged through acres of greenland in Auroville with a trained eye. Her findings paved the way for an insatiable desire to share this knowledge in a unique manner—a book that doubles up as a stress-busting colouring-in journal for adults. Sengupta elaborates, “Edible Weeds and Naturally Growing Plants in Auroville—A Colouring Book Series is a book which illustrates 40 species of plants, mostly found across India, that could enrich the palate. In the form of a colouring-in book, it comes complete with an insert of colour and an information guide that adults can relax over while learning all about it.”
With a page dedicated for every plant species, the information includes edible portions and valuable tips on its usage and inclusion in your daily meal. “For instance, although manathakaali greens is easily available in most city stores, only a few would know that its fruit pods are poisonous when raw and highly medicinal, edible and delicious when ripe. Tips will also include whether each edible portion tastes best when roasted, ground or eaten as is.”
The powerhouse of information is presented in a manner that is bound to tap the creative craze, with a provision to colour the black-and-white line drawings of each illustrated plant. This fun element of communication, although a brand new concept in India, is a best-selling genre in the UK, Spain, Brazil and beyond. It is considered therapeutic and recommended by neurologists as an effective antidote to stress and anxiety for time-strapped professionals. “While my personal perspective was to introduce serious information as a light and easy read—which is proven to register longer in the minds of the reader—I am excited about the plethora of avenues where this book may become an educational tool, from teaching to foraging interests for chefs/cooks and much more,” beams Sengupta.
The name game
♦ Coral vine (Kodi-rose): An ornamental hedge plant, its flowers can be eaten raw in salads or as flower tea; its leaves are best batter-fried; and its seeds, as flour (once roasted, winnowed and ground).
♦ Slender joyweed: A cousin of the common ponnagani, its leaves can be cooked with lentils or eaten raw.
♦ Gorakhbuti (Sirru-pulay): Its leaves and young stems are edible, and make a great substitute for spinach.
♦ Shiny bush (mashitandu chedi): Belonging to the betel leaf family, it adds a spicy undertone and crunch in salads. Try cooking as leaf tea or as a pot herb.
The book is available at Freeland Book Store, Auroville, Rs.365. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Preeti GT
Friday, September 25
Jackie Chan’s First Strike (Action), HBO , 9 pm
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jackson Liu, Nonna Grishayeva
Chan Ka-kui (Chan), a Hong Kong police detective, teams up with the CIA to follow a woman called Natasha (Grishayeva ) who is believed to be delivering money to a terrorist. Her arrest leads Ka-kui to terrorist Jackson Tsui (Liu), who is trying to obtain a nuclear warhead from a Russian mob. He tries to follow Tsui, but is unsuccessful. As Ka-kui tries to resolve the case, he soon realises that the real culprit is someone else. This movie was not originally a part of the Police Story franchise.
Captain Phillips (Action/Drama), MN+ HD , 9 pm
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi
Based on a true story, the film finds Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), captain of the unarmed cargo freighter Maersk Alabama, pitted against Somali pirates. Despite his best attempts, the pirates board the ship—but only after Phillips sends his crew into hiding. Soon the pirate leader, Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), is captured by the ship’s crew when he goes below deck to try and find where they are hiding. Though Phillips tries bargaining with Muse, the pirates turn the tables on him. Will the US Navy reach in time to save Phillips’ life? The film was the acting debut for all the Somali actors in the movie.
Ready, (Romance/Action) Star Gold, 8 pm
Cast: Salman Khan, Asin
The wealthy Kapoors want their son Prem (Khan) to marry US-based Pooja Malhotra. But when he is sent to pick her up at the airport, he deliberately goes to a different terminal. However, once there, he meets Sanjana Singh (Asin) who is fleeing her own wedding and, after overhearing Prem talking about ditching Pooja, decides to pose as the girl. Needless to say, trouble soon finds the two as Sanjana’s family is on the lookout for her.
The film is a remake of a Telugu film by the same name.
Tevar (Romance/Action), UTV Movies, 2.05 am
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Manoj Bajpayee
A kabaddi player, Pintoo (Kapoor) goes to Mathura for training, where he ends up saving Radhika (Sinha) from the advances of a vile faction leader, Gajender Singh. Once he finds out that Singh had killed Radhika’s brother, he takes up the responsibility of her safety and hides her in his house. But fate has something else in store, as Pintoo’s father, SP Shukla (Raj Babbar), is the police officer assigned by Singh to locate Radhika. Can Pintoo manage to evade the police and keep Radhika safe? This is a remake of a Telugu movie titled Okkadu.
Saturday, September 26:
The Hundred Foot Journey (Comedy/Drama),
Star Movies Select HD, 9 pm
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
Fleeing from the political violence in India, Papa Kadam (Puri) and his family, including his son Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), travel across Europe before ending in France where an act of kindness by Marguerite (Le Bon) inspires Papa to set up an Indian restaurant called Maison Mumbai in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. That puts him in direct competition with Madame Mallory’s (Mirren) established restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur. With a rivalry inevitable, can the spicy, loud Indian restaurant compete with the Michelin-starred, fine dining counterpart? AR Rahman composed the music for the movie.
The Love Punch (Romance/Comedy), Romedy Now, 9 pm
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson
Richard (Brosnan) and Kate (Thompson) are a divorced couple who everyone, including their neighbour Jerry (Timothy Spall), wants to see get back together. Richard is about to retire and even sells his company when he realises that the person whom he sold it to is a corrupt French businessman Vincent, who initiates an investigation and gets his company’s finances frozen—including his retirement money. Determined to find Vincent, Richard takes Kate’s help to find the fraudulent businessman, and the duo end up travelling through Europe on a roller-coaster of adventures. Tim Smith was initially cast as Jerry, but later opted out.
Golmaal 3 (Action/Comedy), Star Gold, 2.10 pm
Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor
An elderly bus driver, Pritam (Chakraborty) has three sons—Madhav (Arshad Warsi), Laxman (Kunal Khemu) and Lucky (Tushar Kapoor) — who are always trying to fox people. When they open a water sports stall next to one owned by brothers Laxman (Shreyas Talpade) and Gopal (Devgn) and their partner Daboo (Kapoor), rivalry ensues. To sort out the problem, Pritam goes to meet Gopal’s mother, only to realise she is his old college sweetheart.
With their romance rekindled, the families are thrown together, with hilarious results. The film won the Filmfare
Award for Best Scene of the Year.
Sunday, September 27:
Thor (Action), Sony Pix, 9 pm
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman,
Thor (Hemsworth) is about to ascend to the throne of Asgard when he is interrupted by an attack by the Frost Giants, who try to take back their artefact, the Casket of Ancient Winters. Against his father Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) order, Thor goes to fight the Giants along with his brother Loki (Hiddleston). The fierce battle ends only when Odin intervenes. As punishment, Thor is exiled to Earth as a mortal, where he falls for Jane Foster (Portman). Meanwhile, Loki usurps the throne of Asgard. Will Thor sacrifice his love for Jane and try to stop Loki? The final choice for the role of Thor came down to Chris Hemswroth and his brother Liam Hemsworth.
Bombay Velvet (Drama), Movies OK, 8 pm
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
Balraj (Kapoor) is a street fighter who falls in love with a jazz singer Rosie (Sharma). Balraj believes that in order to win her heart he must become wealthy first. Meanwhile, Kaizad Khambatta (Johar) recruits Balraj to run his club called the Bombay Velvet, which is also a centre for illegal activities. Chasing them is reporter Jimmy Mistri, who is trying to get the scoop on their criminal activities and has a past with Rosie that he hopes to use to his advantage. Will Rosie betray Balraj? Johar charged only `11 for this movie, directed by Anurag Kashyap.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (Comedy), Star Movies, 9 pm
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson
Larry Daley (Stiller) is the night manager at the American Museum of Natural History, where a new exhibit is going to be unveiled. Larry possesses the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, a magical device responsible for making the museum exhibits, including Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), come to life every night. With the magic of the Tablet corroding, Larry’s learns from Ahkmenrah that only his father, the Pharaoh, can tell him how to prolong its life. With the Pharoah in a London museum, Larry must head there to solve the mystery. This is the final movie to feature Robin Williams.
XP Guide: Mysore,travelxp HD, Friday, 5.30 pm
This time, the XP Guide team takes you to Mysore, which translates to the ‘Abode of Mahisa.’ Also popular as the Palace City of India, it boasts grand palaces like the Mysore Palace, Lalitha Mahal and Jagan Mohan Palace. The episode will also explore the city’s culture and cuisines.
Doctor Who, FX, Friday, 9 pm
In the episodeThe Snowman: Part 1, of British science fiction show Doctor Who, the Doctor along with his friends Amy and Rory Pond are confined to a planetary prison and must find an escape route with the help of Oswin— the sole survivor of the starship Alaska, which crashed on the planet—who has been there for a year awaiting rescue and making soufflés to pass the time.
The Whispers, Z Cafe, Saturday, 2 pm
When an invisible force, Drill begins to manipulate innocent children into doing unlawful acts and facilitating evil, a few adults must do whatever they can to save them. In this episode of the sci-fi drama, FBI agent Claire has a talk with a few children who have been contacted by Drill, while Wes, a defence department operative, stumbles upon a startling secret.
The Voice, AXN India, Saturday, 8 pm
Premiering tomorrow, season nine begins with a fresh round of auditions. Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Chase Kerby and Tulsa-based duo Jubal Lee Young and Amanda Preslar are among those featured in the auditions. Meanwhile, Blake Shelton is recognised as the coach who has won the most number of times in the history of The Voice—he’s won four out of the eight seasons.
Mr Robot, Colors Infinity, Saturdays, 9 pm
Catch three back-to-back episodes of the award-winning technology thriller this weekend. Elliot Alderson, a young cyber-security engineer, is hired by a mysterious anarchist, Mr Robot, to work with his team of hackers, called fsociety. In the episode, fsociety will attempt to hack Steel Mountain, the most secure data facility in America.
India’s Next Top Model, MTV, Sunday, 7 pm
The finale of India’s Next Top Model sees the top three sashay down the ramp at the Lakme India Fashion Week. Watch them rock the catwalk, interact with the paparazzi and also find out who is crowned the winner.
Matt Damon on working with Ridley Scott and why being an astronaut could never have been a career choice for him
Versatility has become Matt Damon’s signature. The actor is as comfortable playing the rogue secret agent in the Bourne series as he is donning the role of the villain in The Departed. In his latest box office outing, he plays an astronaut stranded on Mars, pitting his brains against the Red Planet’s inhospitable environs. But while his role has been getting him applause, off-screen he’s been caught in a controversy or two—the latest being his stance on how racial diversity in films should be restricted to just the cast and not the crew. Shrugging aside the faux pas for the moment, Damon talks about his latest release.
How did you come on board for The Martian?
I read the script and really liked it. I went to meet Drew Goddard, who had written it and was going to direct it. But before we made a deal, he got offered another movie. So I kind of let it go. Then about a week later, I got a phone call saying that Ridley Scott wanted to do it, so I raced over to his office and that was that.
Had you met before?
No, I’d never met him, which was odd because we’ve both been kicking around here for a while. The meeting was pretty easy—he basically just went, ‘We’ve never met before.’ I said, ‘That’s right.’ Then he went, ‘This script is great.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Why the hell aren’t we making this thing?’ That was kind of the entire meeting.
Ridley is a very talented artist. Did he sketch how a scene would look?
Yeah, constantly. That’s his way of describing something. He’ll sketch out a frame and put a head in it, or put a body in it, and go, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to be like.’ He also sketches out storyboards, you know, so you get all these storyboards before you even start shooting. You have a really good idea of what he wants to do.
What did you like about the story?
It was really the character. What writerAndy Weir does so well in the novel, and what Drew captured in the adaptation, was all the tension of being in this horrible situation, but also the sense of humour that the character has. There’s a lightness that makes it really entertaining, without sacrificing any of the intensity.
It could have been a very different film without that lightness.
Yeah, I don’t think it would be that fun to watch if it were a guy just white-knuckling it for two hours. I think that’s a very different movie, a very different experience.
Did it make you think about whether you could’ve been an astronaut?
Sure, yeah, it’s tough to do a movie like this without thinking about some of that stuff. And no, I don’t think I’m built for it. Luckily there are some people who are.
What kind of personality do they need to do that remarkable job?
It’s that same spirit that the pioneers had. They crossed into the West, and many of them died doing it. It’s people who push the envelope. They’re explorers, and that’s what we need in order to keep going.
And is it true you’re going to do another Bourne?
Yeah, I’m leaving next week to start another Bourne and I’m looking forward to it.
The Martian is expected to release on October 2.
From collaborating with John McLaughlin to judging a radio talent hunt and taking up acting, the singer speaks up
There are talent shows and there are talent shows judged by a four-time National Award winner. Big FM’s Benadryl BIG Golden Voice concluded its third season in Mumbai recently and singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan, who has been judge and mentor on the radio talent hunt since season two, selected two winners, one of whom happens to be a young lad from Chennai. “On the radio, it is purely about music. The medium is non-inhibiting and very good for talented people who have a fear of performing on television,” he says, adding that a radio talent hunt also makes the listener focus on that which matters most—the voice. The singer, who feels that talent shows like these have not only given youngsters a taste of stardom, but also made them household names, says that he has his hands full post the conclusion of the talent show.
We don’t need him to tell us that he’s quite kicked about donning the role of actor in the upcoming Marathi movie, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli. “I have played myself on screen in the past, but this is the first time I’m playing a character. This is a classic Marathi play that’s being brought on screen and they wanted someone who could sing. I related to the character and took it up,” he says, about the film that’s expected to release in November. Meanwhile, Mahadevan is working on a collaboration with guitarist John McLaughlin and says this is something to watch out for. “John and I used to talk about how Indian classical music needs to be harmonised in a different way. We are working on that and have recorded three songs,” he says, addding that there may be a few more tracks, too.
All that jazz
While that does sound interesting, what we’re truly keeping our ears open for are the singles he is working on with his son Siddharth Mahadevan and his grandson, too. “It’s just a matter of time,” he laughs, adding that the compositions are ready and we can expect to hear them in about six months.
The singer is also looking forward to his tour of jazz festivals in the US next month. “I will be performing with the likes of Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland and Chris Potter,” he says excitedly. And if you’re not able to make it to the US to watch him in action, be sure to book your tickets for the “very interesting” concert he says is coming up in Chennai, in January.
Eoin Macken hopes season three of The Night Shift has more war games
WITH an ensemble cast, here’s yet another medical drama for the viewers. The creative brainchild of Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, The Night Shift will have dramatic emotions and fast-paced action. Eoin Macken will be seen playing the lead role, with the show being set in a military hospital. But the actor, who was last seen in the fantasy-adventure series Merlin, admits that playing the role wasn’t easy. More from him:
How would you sum up the character of TC Callahan?
Callahan is a bit of a rogue. He’s a military doctor who served in Afghanistan and he’s a little bit of a renegade. He’s a very intelligent man, but he’s also very volatile and he does what he thinks is best.
What’s the common ground between you and him?
I think where I associate or empathise with Callahan is how he believes he’s right and he doesn’t like authority. He likes to do things his own way.
What did you take away from the show?
I learnt a lot about the military, about how important it is in American culture. I learnt a lot that I didn’t really understand about people who are army vets and what they’ve gone through and how they are re-acclimatising into society.
You must be thrilled that it’s just been picked up for a third season.
I think the third season will be interesting because everything is set up now and the exploration of where the characters come from is pretty much done. So you’re able to evolve.
What would you like to see happen?
In the end of season two, they went back to Afghanistan and that was really interesting. I’d like to do some more of the military stuff because I think that’s a different aspect to the show that a lot of people connect with and a lot of people like. Even though it’s set in a hospital, I’d like to see them go abroad a bit more because I like all the on-the-field stuff.
Every Wednesday, at 9 pm, on Colors Infinity
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