Home Archives 2015 December

Monthly Archives: December 2015

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    Beauty and the Beast,
    AXN, Friday, 10 pm
    Vincent Keller, an ex-soldier, has become the target of a city-wide manhunt following a murder. He tries to stay under the radar with the help of his love interest, Catherine Chandler, a detective. But while in hiding, they find a surprising ally in the FBI, who wants their help on an important case.

    The 90s, National Geographic Channel, Sunday, 10 pm
    In the series’ second episode, The Great Indian Dream, actress Dia Mirza, filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma, VJ Gaurav Kapoor, among other celebs, talk about the 90s. Find out how the era gave a fillip to the music, film, TV and advertising industries in India. From Alisha Chinai’s Made In India to Baba Sehgal’s Aaja meri gaadi mein baith ja, indie pop culture also took the country by storm.

    Big Star Entertainment Awards,
    Star Plus, Thursday, 8 pm
    Besides the big awards—like Kabir Khan winning Most Entertaining Director for Bajrangi Bhaijaan— catch the show for its fun performances by stars. Look out for Alia Bhatt’s debut on the BSEA stage and Shahid Kapoor’s performance with TV television stars like Devoleena Bhattacharjee and Divyanka Tripathi.

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    6 fun, affordable and tasty domestic sparkling wines to bring to any dinner party this season. Plus, a selection of Prosecco and Champagne

    Champagne is the star of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. The tradition of bubbles and the association with hope and good times is so powerful that it’s almost irresistible. Even if you don’t fancy fizzy wines, this festive season is when most people make an exception. Champagne is produced only in the Champagne region of France and uses the costly bottle fermentation method. For those like me who incline towards real Champagne and find acidity attractive, there’s enough good stuff available in the Champagne style. Whether Champagne or sparkling, these wines are very versatile and can be enjoyed right through the meal. Here is my choice of domestic and affordable sparkling wines to get 2016 on to a good start.
    Chandon Brut and Chandon Brut Rosé are world class sparkling wines produced in India by the French Champagne group, Moët Hennessy, from grapes grown and vinified in Nashik. Made in the traditional Champagne method with a second fermenation in the bottle, Chandon Brut uses Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, while Chandon Brut Rosé is made from Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Chandon Brut has a soft palate of primary fruit characters and well balanced acidity. Vanilla and toasty notes add complexity leading to a lingering, crisp, dry finish. Chandon Brut Rosé is a rose-gold with a fine persistent effervescence. The palate evolves with mouth-filling small red fruits and creamy, citrus tones. `1,250 and `1,450 respectively.
    Brut Tropicale, released to mark Sula’s 15th Anniversary, is a limited edition sparkler that comes with a vibrant jazzy label wrapped all around the bottle.  A Blanc de Noirs, the Tropicale is produced mainly from premium, estate-grown red grapes such as Pinot Noir and Shiraz.The wine tastes fresh and crisp despite its level of residual sugar. Slightly pink, with good structure from red skin contact with the juice, Sula’s Brut Tropicale will please across the board and the young set most of all. `1,050.
    Celebrated winemaker Piero Masi has helped produce a completely dry, Gran Cuvée. (Gran Cuvée indicates that it is made with specially selected grapes from the best parcel of land.) This is the only ‘zero dosage’ sparkling by a domestic wine brand and is produced from 100 per cent Chenin Blanc grapes. With its bready, yeasty notes and mineral undertones, it is for the more serious wine lover. It is slightly citrusy in flavour with a creamy texture and clean finish. The Fratelli Gran Cuvée is international in style. An elegant wine, made in the traditional Champagne method in Akluj. `1,120 in New Delhi.
    Grover Zampa Vineyards
    They have been winning numerous awards of late, including a Decanter bronze medal for the Zampa Soiree Brut. Pale gold in colour with a persistent mousse, it has a nose of floral, fresh lemon aromas and white fruit flavours such as pears. Attractively priced at `1,100, it is light and creamy, with crisp acidity and a dry finish in classic brut style. The Soirée rosé costs a little more at `1,200 in Karnataka.

    The wine prices, where available are approximate, especially for the imported wines due to state excise etc.

    Reva Singh is the editor of Sommelier India, a Delhi-based magazine that features wine-related news, profiles and culture articles
    by renowned wine writers.
    Details: sommelierindia.com

    If you like it
    Sweet and fruity? Try a Moscato d’Asti, or a sweet Lambrusco.
    Fruity and slightly sweet? Look for “off dry” or “extra dry” Cava, Prosecco, and some domestics.
    Dry and fruity? Look for “brut” on the labels of Cava, Prosecco, Crémant, or domestic sparklers.
    Complex and toasty? Go for a true Champagne or a high quality domestic sparkler, a Spanish Cava or Italian Franciacorta.

    — Reva Singh

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      One of the biggest  hair influencers of our time, Adhuna Akhtar talks to us about the spray that matters, plus intergalactic makeovers

      ADHUNA AKHTAR, hair stylist to the stars, is no fan of the hair straightener. But the striking and outspoken entrepreneur – BBlunt, her brand of salons, has over 16 outlets and a team of 100 – admits that you can certainly lighten up a bit when it comes to your mane. From her kit of about 26 products, researched and developed with FMCG firm, Godrej Consumer Products, Akhtar, 48, whips out three bestsellers: Climate Control, an anti-frizz leave-in cream; One Night Stand, a temporary hair colour; and Spotlight, a hair polish. All three are welcome additions to your bag for the NYE parties ahead, she says. “Climate Control, a multipurpose product, is suited to all hairstyles and contains quinoa for protein. I’ve just got back from Goa with a bunch of girlfriends, each with a different hairtype. It worked for all of them, and was just as easy as applying sun protection,” says the hair expert who became a celebrity of sorts after she showed off her styling chops on husband Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai (2001). While Spotlight, a spray that works like a serum, adds instant gloss to hair, it is One Night Stand that she predicts will go down well with the Star Wars crowd this season. “It is temporary hair colour. You spray and leave it on, and it shampoos out. I call it art on the hair. If you are wearing a pony tail, you can use stencils to add design, be it film or tattoo themed, or a geometric shape,” she says. Currently in blue, green, bronze and gold, with a sparkling pink coming up. Akhtar admits that she finds hairdressing therapeutic and is keen to spread her skill – so check out her academy or the reruns of her show on TLC. ilable online and at the BBlunt salons. Details: 09591578586

      Four to go
      ?  Dry shampoo is what every girl must carry with her this season. A quick fix for fine and oily hair, but not a substitute to a hair wash
      ? I have never been fond of the hair straightener. I like to maintain hair in its natural state rather than try to go against it
      ? We have busy lifestyles and no one wants to waste too much time on hair. Braiding in various ways works right now. Hair for men is getting longer and it is more natural and beachy
      ? Among the movie projects coming up, there is Rock On!!2 with the team. Personally, there is Nitya Mehra’s Baar Baar Dekho, a long time after the first one. She’s a friend and I couldn’t say no to

      — Team Indulge

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        Star Wars: The Force Awakens
        Director: JJ Abrams
        Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver
        The seventh instalment of Star Wars is set 30 years after the Galatic Empire was defeated and the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Hamill), disappeared. The galaxy now faces a new threat, a faction named The First Order, whose commander is determined to kill Skywalker.
        Did you know: When George Lucas told Hamill about the new Star Wars movie, he immediately agreed to reprise his role.

        Director: N Kalyanakrishnan
        Cast: Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Prakash Raj
        This movie showcases Jayam Ravi as a boxer and traces his journey to the top. He trains hard and rises steadily, only to clash with the ultimate (and real-life) professional wrestler, Nathan Jones.
        Did you know: Amala Paul and Nayantara were approached to play the female lead, but they couldn’t allot dates. So the role went to Trisha.

        Pasanga 2
        Director: Pandiraj
        Cast: Nishesh, Vaishnavi, Karthik Kumar, Bindu Madhavi
        Directed by Pandiraj, the movie about children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) ends his trilogy of children-centric films (after Pasanga and Marina). The three lead child actors—Nishesh, Vaishnavi and Karthik Kumar—are newcomers.
        Did you know: Actor Suriya, who is producing and doing a cameo in the film, requested the public not to celebrate the movie and direct their efforts towards flood relief.

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          Producer of American Hustle, George Parra talks movies, James Cameron and the continuing attraction of dark comedy

          Producer George Parra began his career as an assistant director in the early
          ’90s and has worked with Hollywood greats like James Cameron, David O Russell and Alexander Payne. While he was in the spotlight for American Hustle—which was nominated in 10 categories for the Academy Awards in 2014—in the past two decades, he has produced many Hollywood films like Descendants, Silver Linings Playbook and Asylum. In an exclusive interview, Parra shares why working with Cameron was important for his career and the success story of American Hustle.

          Which among your movies is a personal favourite?
          My first film, Terminator. Every moment was important and every day was a learning. But Descendants is probably my personal favourite.

          Why was working on Terminator so important?
          James Cameron is one of our geniuses. The original Terminator was a low budget, independent science fiction. During filming, things change inevitably and you need to accept that, think quickly and solve problems. Cameron was so fantastic that if something didn’t work one way, he would find another. He was a good educator to me.

          Any projects with Cameron?
          I haven’t worked with him in ages. He is a good friend and busy with Avatar 2 for the next five years.

          With no godfather in the industry, how difficult was your beginning?
          It was difficult, yes. You needed to be resilient. There were days when I never had work. You just learned to put your head to the ground and work hard.

          Tell us about your association with American Hustle?
          I’d worked with David O Russell in Silver Linings Playbook when he asked me to collaborate with him for American Hustle. The script was well-written by Russell and I think that was the standout point about the movie’s success.

          For a producer, how important is it to win an award?
          Two years ago, we had 16 nominations for Academy Awards and we won just one. Just being nominated is a huge honour and to win is a step above. I’ve never won an Academy. I would like to have one in my house.

          What’s next?
          It’s called The Bachelors and it is a black comedy. JK Simmons will star in it and he plays a character dealing with the aftermath of his wife’s loss. We start filming next March.
          American Hustle premieres on Sony Pix, December 26, 9 pm.

          Need to know
          Favourite actor: George Clooney
          All-time movie: As a child, and an adult, one movie I have absolutely enjoyed is Wizard of Oz. It’s scary, it’s funny and it’s a great memory for me Best genre: Black comedy. In the last decade, my favourites have been Silver Linings Playbook, Nebraska, Sideways, Joy and Descendants

          — Nandini Kumar

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            With the release of Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale last week, we saw the final big names make their way to the Bollywood marquee. This Friday is now clear for the mega event: Star Wars The Force Awakens. So as we bring down the curtains on 2015, here is my list of the top 10 films of the year (in random order).

            Varun Dhawan smouldered and stooped as he went head-to-head with the indomitable Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama. Based on a novel by Italian crime writer Massimo Carlotto, this redemption saga was a showcase for the college-crush Dhawan to display his acting chops, and he did not disappoint. But the villain of the year could easily go to Siddiqui for his mercurial Liak.

            Margarita With A Straw
            Director Shonali Bose’s film follows Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a self-assured and feisty teenager at the cusp of sexual awakening. Bose treats Laila’s disability (cerebral palsy) and confinement to a wheelchair with respectful disregard as we follow her to university in USA and entering into a relationship with the spunky, visually-impaired Khanum (Sayani Gupta). The film is warm, entertaining and Koechlin is remarkable.

            Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan Khan are the powerhouse talents that make this father and daughter story so relatable and enjoyable. As the father enters his twilight years, Piku finds herself taking on the parenting role in Shoojit Sircar’s charming film, with one of the finest scripts of the year.

            Tanu Weds Manu Returns
            This film makes my list simply for one reason: Kangana Ranaut. In a double role, she stands head and shoulders above her co-stars as the buck-toothed young athlete Kusum. Director Anand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma capture the nuances of small town India and provide Ranaut with equally capable and impressive co-stars such as Jimmy Sheirgill, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub,
            Deepak Dobriyal and Swara Bhaskar.

            Bajrangi Bhaijaan
            This Salman Khan starrer skates into my list for two reasons: Kabir Khan’s success in directing Khan and getting him to act, and for the incredible child actor Harshaali Malhotra—as the mute Munni lost on the wrong side of the border. Not without resorting to preaching on being neighbourly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an unashamed Bollywood movie that pushes all the right buttons.

            Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut film came with Cannes Film Festival kudos as interconnected stories unfolded on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chadda, Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi pitch in with impressive performances. Avinash Arun’s cinematography captures Varanasi in all its moods, to bring alive Ghaywan and Varun Grover’s poetic study of restrained contemporary Indian society.

            Ajay Devgn steps into the role of cable TV operator, Vijay Salgaonkar, in the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film, which was criticised for borrowing heavily from Keigo Higashino’s novel The Devotion of Suspect X. Yet that is a small gripe for a riveting story full of twists and turns, in which director Nishikant Kamat gets full marks for casting Tabu as the bereaved yet hardnosed inspector general.

            Meghna Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj teamed up to make a hard-hitting and complex film that explored various sides to the crime story that shook the nation, when a teenage daughter was found murdered in her bedroom. Besides the outstanding performances and the script, Talvar has the added achievement of having one of the best scenes of the year—as two opposing investigating teams engage in caustic verbal sparring.

            Another debut film that is bold and moving. Writer-director Kanu Behl’s family drama is violent, claustrophobic, atmospheric, disturbing and uncompromising. Shashanka Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Ranvir Shorey and Amit Sial are as sharp in their interpretation of the material as Behl and Sharat Katariya’s script is sizzling.

            Reactions to Imtiaz Ali’s love story were dramatically polarised, but in my opinion, this Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor film is layered, clever, insightful and thought provoking. It’s the crackling chemistry between Kapoor and Padukone that brings alive these two flawed yet relevant characters.

            Honorable mentions
            Bringing up the rear are Angry Indian Goddesses, Rahasya, Gour Hari Dastaan, Bajirao Mastani and Manjhi The Mountain Man. While I really wanted to include Baahubali in my top 10, it doesn’t make the cut as it’s not a Hindi film. Nor does Court which is in Marathi. The star of 2015: undoubtedly Deepika Padukone with three films in the top.

            Bajrangi Bhaijaan
            This Salman Khan starrer skates into my list for two reasons: Kabir Khan’s success in directing Khan and getting him to act, and for the incredible child actor Harshaali Malhotra—as the mute Munni lost on the wrong side of the border. Not without resorting to preaching on being neighbourly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an unashamed Bollywood movie that pushes all the right buttons.

            Udita Jhunjhunwala


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               With a sabha canteen food walk in the offing and singers chatting about favourite dishes, Puliyogare Travels makes Margazhi extra special

              As a nine-year-old, Rakesh Raghunathan, a Carnatic singer and TV food show host, used to forgo play time to learn how to differentiate different types of rasams. Today, he’s made his passion for food into his career. “Puliyogare Travels started a couple of years ago as a journal to document our travels (with wife Preeti Mohan). Gradually, it evolved into a food and travel blog, where we look at  food through the same lens that we look at cultures and people,” begins the 33-year-old, who hosts Sutralam Suvaikalam on News7 Tamil.
              But what caught our attention recently was the new segment on the website that focusses on the Margazhi season. Besides detailed listings on the menus at the various sabha canteens (updated daily), it also features interesting interviews with singers like Nisha Rajagopal and Sikkil Gurucharan—on their passion for music and their favourite bits—under the section ‘Spoonful of Music’. “All the artistes we’ve featured are young, vibrant and dynamic, with interesting personalities that go beyond their music,” says Raghunathan, who just posted a conversation with singer Sandeep Narayan that explores his love of dosas and ragas.
              We are more excited, however, by a food walk he’s planning for the coming week. “We are in talks with prominent sabha canteens in and around Mylapore, to put together a food walk that will end with one of the canteens showing us how to make a traditional recipe,” says the MBA graduate. “We’ve been doing unofficial group food tours—where we take people around Madurai or Trichy—showing them where to get the best paniyaram or kadalai mittai. Now requests are pouring in, so we plan to offer it as a service in the new year,” he adds. You can also expect a section on cooking demonstrations, where Raghunathan will show you how to make recipes that are oft forgotten.

              For more details on the food walk, mail puliyogaretravels@gmail.com

              —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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                New experiments and a fresh take on ragas mark the performances of four singers that you must catch this week

                Despite the late start, the December season is picking up momentum. The sabhas are filling up, the canteens are keeping up and the concerts are getting standing ovations. “There is a slight drop in attedance, but it’s heartening how people are using the Margazhi concerts as a means to find relief,” says Carnatic singer Sandeep Narayan. While next week sees performances by pianist Anil Srinivasan, Hindustani vocalist Pandit Venkatesh Kumar, among other greats, we speak with four performers who are being talked about.

                Sandeep Narayan Brahma Gana Sabha

                This US-born and raised musician, who moved to India to take up music full time, is one of the most sought-after singers today. Though he doesn’t want to reveal too much about his concerts—“I like an element of surprise to be there”—he shares that he will be adding a new raga for his concert on Monday, or elaborating on a ragam. “I don’t want to repeat anything because, with so many concerts happening in such a small area, you have a lot of the same people in the audience.” December 28,
                at 4 pm. Details: 24642767

                Sikkil Gurucharan Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha

                The grandson of Sikkil Kunjumani, one of the acclaimed flautist duo, the Sikkil Sisters, Gurucharan says this December season has reinforced his faith in music’s ability to heal. “Chennai is bouncing back and our people have shown that music and the city are two inseparable entities,” says the singer. Today’s performance will see him take the stage with mridangam player Umayalpuram Sivaraman. “The beauty of our music is that it gives us so many new things to explore and no two concerts are the same. I am planning to sing a pallavi that he taught me earlier this year,” he adds.Today,
                at 6.30 pm. Details: parthasarathysabha.com

                Ranjani-Gayatri The Music Academy

                With three performances to go this year, sisters Ranjani-Gayatri are looking forward to their show today. “It’s one of the most coveted slots,” smiles Gayatri, adding, “With every concert we aim to take rasikas on a journey of discovery—of voice and technical virtuaosity, and of emotions. We always try to balance these three elements. For our Christmas performance, we plan to present some raga, taalam and pallavi that we haven’t performed before.”
                Today, at 4 pm. Details: 28112231

                Surya Praphulla Kumar

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                  In 2001, when FM was yet to get privatised in Chennai, it was Bangalore that had the good fortune of having a station on air. It was a novelty and the station had a blast notching up listeners at a break-neck speed. I remember making trips to the city just so I could hear an evolved form of radio. That was a time when television had no Arnab Goswamis, Arvind Kejriwals, Bigg Boss and the like—so radio got a lot of attention and everyone was looking forward to its rebirth in their respective cities.
                  My favourite presenters were from Bangalore and Delhi, but unfortunately I could only listen to them if I were present in those cities. There were some stations that dished out Hindi, while a few belted out English music, which thoroughly satisfied my radio appetite. The flavour that a few stations brought to the table, and still continue to, rings in my ears even now.
                  The smartphone era has reduced distances, increased connectivity and done a whole lot of good for the medium. Today you can sit in Chennai and listen to your choice of radio stations—be it Bhojpuri or Bengali—by simply downloading the required app. I would never have imagined that I could listen to Radio City or a Red FM without moving outside city limits. Thanks to a few good ‘Santamaritans’, this is now possible. It’s simple: go to your App store and download FM Radio India or a similar app, and you will get to sample a lot of stations from around the country.
                  The rise of apps has paved the way for you to listen to any station around the world, while giving local stations a national as well as a global outreach. On that note, you have a fantastic Xmas and a smashing New Year.

                  — talkingradio@gmail.com
                  The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.


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                  Is there a shiny new gadget you’d  like to tell us about?  Mail gadgetboy@newindianexpress.com

                  Olio One
                  Olio is a refined smartwatch which visualises your notifications in an aesthetic manner. The time, weather, emails and a whole bunch of other stuff appear in innovative and colourful ways on an ever-changing screen. oliodevices.com
                  Black Ember
                  Black Ember makes modular backpacks designed and constructed using quality materials. It can be modified as per your activity, using mag-lock hardware to add pouches and cases when required. The backpacks are also weatherproof and extra rugged. blackember.com

                  pg14_3Sony H.ear
                  Sony’s MDR100AAP is part of the h.ear range of headphones, which is available in multiple attractive colours and offer hi-res audio sound. sony.co.in

                  pg14_2RED Scarlet W
                  Independent flimmakers on a budget, take note: RED camera’s new Scarlet W is durable and lightweight, ideal for on-the-go projects. It also shoots in multiple resolutions and speeds from 2K/300fps to 5k/60fps. red.com




                  Mocaheart is a heart health monitor that instantly measures your heart rate, blood flow and blood oxygen. It also syncs easily to your iOS or Android phone to provide extensive statistics. mocacare.com



                  Davek Alert

                  Some of us still use umbrellas, and Davek Alert seems like a good choice considering it connects to your smartphone to alert you when you’ve left it behind. Davek’s umbrellas are also strong, stable and waterproof. davekny.com


                  Exospace B55
                  The B55 has a Breitling manufactured SuperQuartz movement, with both electronic and analogue displays. Its functions include notifications, multiple time zones, chronograph functions and a light durable body made of titanium.

                  pg14_6Octovo Purist
                  The Purist is a leather wallet with a bill-fold and room for four cards. It’s minimal, elegant, finished well and made of Italian vegetable retanned
                  leather. octovo.com

                  Ashok Pandian

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