With Charlie Sheen admitting to being bipolar, here’s a look at other celebs who’ve battled long and hard with the disorder
He was known for his upbeat comedy and was part of shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? The 44-year-old comedian-turned-actor, also an Emmy award winner, opened up about dealing with depression in 2014 when he had admitted, “People are like, ‘Wayne Brady’s always happy! No I’m not. Because I’m human.” Brady has secretly battled with depression for years and an event that especially hit him hard was the tragic passing of Robin Williams in August 2014, who took his own life after a long time struggle with depression.
The rapper, who brought in 2016 in Las Vegas, is now in the news for investing in an app called Blindspot. It supposedly encourages bullying, seeing as it allows users to send anonymous messages to anyone. Nicki Minaj’s status as controversy’s child is once again blamed on bipolar disorder and early depression. She was famously quoted as saying, “I kept having doors slammed on my face. I felt like nothing was working…’’
About a week ago, the former Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen finally admitted of manic behaviour, a symptom of being bipolar. During an appearance on The Dr Oz Show, the controversial star said, “I’ve been described or ‘diagnosed’ by enough people, and I guess at some point you have to take a look at it if it keeps walking like a duck, you know? And I’m not opposed to investigating that aspect of myself. I’ve come this far, might as well fix it all, right?”Hollywood has had several stars in the past who have publicly acknowledged of dealing with depression and
being bipolar – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mel Gibson, and Richard Dreyfuss to name a few.
Burning up Instagram with a shirtless performance in Las Vegas just a fornight ago, hip hop star Chris Brown is never too far from trouble. In fact, it appears his constant tussle with the law and alleged domestic abuse can be narrowed down to bipolar disorder. A couple of years ago, when he was in custody for violence, his judge ruled that he attend therapy sessions with his shrink twice a week. That said, the singer, famous for trading insults online, will not be charged for a Las Vegas battery case, in which he was named a suspect earlier this month.
Fisher wh o resurfaced with the latest franchise of the successful Star Wars, became rather public about her problems with depression, and her various addictions. Her 2008-autobiography Wishful Thinking, whose audiobook even won a nomination at the Grammy, was followed up with a memoir, Shockaholic, in which she talks about her therapy in great detail.
In 2014-15, Creed frontman Scott Stapp revealed he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In events leading up the diagnosis, Stapp was into alcohol and drug addiction, and had erratic behavior. “In my delusional thinking, I thought my family was involved in ISIS, and that millions of dollars had been taken from me to support terrorism. All of it was nonsense. I was out of my mind,” he was quoted in the People’s Magazine.
Singer-actor Demi Lovato will be kickstarting one of the year’s biggest concerts in June, with Nick Jonas. Plus, she has been identified by 2016 American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to connect with the youth. Apparently, Lovato, 23, learned she had bipolar disorder after she checked into a rehab with depression and eating disorder five years ago. In true millennial style, she openly discussed her condition in an interview with People Magazine a year after. “Now I live well with bipolar disorder. Happiness is a choice. Life is a roller coaster,” she has been quoted saying.
With 46 vendors over five days, this edition of By Hand From the Heart is a show of creative strength
rt is truly at the heart of the 17th edition of By Hand From the Heart. For the first time, artists are getting three days dedicated to a group showcase of their works, to be followed by a makers’ market. “Progressing beyond lifestyle products, there will be literature (The Madras Mag Bookshop), furniture (Kairasi) and music (Bansuriwala) for the first time,” explains organiser Deepa Sekar. Not much has changed though in the event’s objectives since its inception in 2011, clarifies organiser Kshiti Davey. “We started out to provide a platform for designers and makers to meet the right audience, and we are on track with that,” she says. Here’s a guide to what to look out for at the event.
Ankon Mitra, Oritecture
An architect with a passion for origami, Delhi-based Mitra will present a series of works inspired by Tamil Nadu’s heritage, in his first exhibition in the city. “In showing the architectural sites using origami, the geometry of a permanent structure gets made in an ephemeral medium,” he states. Sites that inspired him include the Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple in Madurai. Specially presented for the market is a diptych themed on the floods, called Chennai’s Ark. Arangyetram, featuring the pleats of the Bharatnatyam costume, is yet another work scheduled for the city. “This involved a lot of folding, at least 2,000 folds, as I had to fold both paper (Indian mint paper) and fabric (Madras silk), and then refold them to create the effect,” he explains. Rs 7,500-Rs 50,000. On February 1-3 and 5-6.
Moka Satish Kumar, Paper sculptures
A self-taught artist, Vizag-based Kumar is one of the few practitioners of paper sculpting in the country. “It is a very labour-intensive art. If I work 12 hours a day, I’d still complete only two works in three months,” says the 45-year-old, who will be displaying his work in Chennai for the first time. Using customised embossing tools and imported paper, Kumar says he has honed his skills by observing the works of Canada-based paper sculptor, Calvin Nicolls. Besides a Ganesha (Rs 55,000), his Indian Lady (Rs 1,50,000) will be the highlight of the art show. February 1-3.
Aarti Karwayun Chawda, Artwork
Bengaluru-based artist and home décor designer Chawda believes divinity lies within us. And she has attempted to present this theme in her recent collection. She asked her friends to define divinity as they saw it, and then used that imagery to do charcoal portraits of them. “We shot a video on this theme and, as the collaborators spoke about it, we made them pose for the artwork. I used their inputs on the topic to create an image of the divinity in them,” she says. Rs 3,000 onwards. February 1-3 and 5-6.
The Malayalam Project, Artwork
There’s more than meets the eye in the works of The Malayalam Project, an initiative to research Kerala’s typography. Their latest work attempts to showcase perceptions about women over the decades in Malayalam literature. “We are working on a series of 40 excerpts of popular bodies of literature, starting from the first major novel, Indulekha by O Chandu Menon (1889) to NT Vasudevan Nair’s Randamoozham (1984), to show how women were portrayed in every decade,” explains Aleena Sajeev, researcher and curator of the Kochi-based initiative, who has been working on this theme along with Theresa J George, their design director. Ten excerpts will be presented at the market, besides Malayalam-themed cushions covers, posters and T-shirts. Rs 699 onwards. February 1-3 and 5-6.
Tiny Farm, Quirkstore
If you’re yet to zero-in on a calendar for the year, Tiny Farm has a fun option. Designed specially for the market by Bengaluru-based Riddhi Desai, it features her floral-themed watercolours. The full-time artist has also illustratedChennai-themed quirky notebooks, posters and coasters for her first exhibition in the city. Rs 200 onwards. February 1-3 and 5-6.
Try your hand at Madhubani art. Grab a copy of the hand-drawn adult colouring book (Rs 1,470) by Subadra Kalyanaraman, of The Madras Mag Bookshop. For more Madhubani love, there are jewellery, coasters and combs, designed by artists and sisters Shishu and Chetna Suman, under the label Madhubani Motifs. Rs 100 onwards. February 5-6.
Sandhya Manne, Zentangle
City based Zentangle artist Sandhya—who also teaches the art—will be presenting a new series of pen-and-ink drawings inspired by the mandalas. Over 25 artworks from will be on display at the market. The artist will also showcase a collection of oil paintings themed on her tea time routine. Rs 3,000 onwards. February 1-3 and 5-6.
At Lalit Kala Akademi. Details: 28291692
Hits & misses
To give artists a gallery experience, the organisers opted to host the event at the Lalit Kala Akademi. So they had to give a few regulars, like the farmers’ market, a miss. Davey confirms that this is owing to the Akademi’s regulations. Instead, check out for restored vintage furniture by Kairasi, wood and glass decor from Upcykle, healing jewellery by Strings and Beads, and an anthology of contemporary writing by The Madras Mag Bookshop.
A different take on a traditional art form. Plus, confidence-boosting tips, concerts and a travelling exhibition
Applying the kolam through dance and drawing? It’s not as improbable as it sounds. Auroville-based Grace Gitadelida will teach the art and give pointers about the correct posture to adopt so that your heart and brain are aligned. You will also learn the stories behind padi kolam and other types of kolam. Rs 500 per session (including materials, and tea and snacks). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm. At Douceur Community, Auroville. Details: 9841412550
From a diary
The travelling exhibition, Anne Frank — A History for Today, comes to Pondicherry this week. Set in the backdrop of the holocaust and horrors of World War II, the show created by the Anne Frank House, Netherlands, is hosted by PeaceWorks—an initiative of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts and the Azim Premji Foundation. February 1-5 (4 pm to 6 pm) and February 6 (9 am to 6 pm). Details: 0413 2253244
Overcome your stage fright with Australian actor Jeese Fox-Allen. In a one-day workshop, he will train you in public speaking. The first session will involve relaxing and awareness of breath, while the next two sessions will concentrate on removing expression-based obstacles and techniques involving voice and body language. Rs 2,400 per person. At the Auroville Retreat.
The much-awaited 13th edition of Freedom Jam arrives with a high energy line-up of rock bands, like Astralot from Bengaluru and Oorka from Chennai. Tomorrow, at PTDC Seagulls Restaurant (details: 0413 2338643).
On Sunday, among others, Grammy award-winner Shenkar—with his band, Radiotronics—will spin EDM tunes at Beach Road, near Tourist Information. Free entry. Details: 0413 2339497
Cheers to two
Join the party as La Plancha completes two years this Sunday, with EDM by Bengaluru-based DJ Freddie. Additions to the regular menu will be special tarts, quiche and goat cheese salads. Sip on cocktails like mint julep and berry blast, among others, and end the night with desserts like tiramisu, crepes and more. Meal for two, including cocktails, at approximately Rs 800. Details: 0413 4300333
When not exploring the city’s past and future, Pondicherry Heritage Festival promises access to beautiful French homes
PEND the first week of February scratching beneath the stereotypical image of Pondy as the second edition of the ‘Pondicherry Heritage Festival’ takes you beyond the charming rows of colonial buildings by the sea and the mingling of French and Indian sensibilities on every street — to discover how its rich past is inextricably tied up with its shifting present. While the maiden edition highlighted lesser-known buildings of heritage value which doubled up as venues, the second edition has attempted to cover multiple aspects of heritage including natural, architectural, visual and performing. Sign up for heritage walks, talks by conservationists, performances by local artistes and find out how literary sparks have been kindled here. People driving down can opt to stay at the Palais de Mahe (Details: 0484 3011711) or guest houses like Gratitude (0413 222 5029), which are also the cultural partners for the event.
Partnering with a host of institutions and organisations, the heritage festival is the collaborative effort of INTACH, People for Pondicherry’s Heritage (PPH) and PondyCAN, supported by the Department of Art and Culture, and Puducherry Tourism. Organisers hope the festival will evolve into an international calendar event. “We want a larger audience to see Pondicherry for what it is, but right now we hope to build a sense of identity in Pondicherrians so they can take pride in what they have,” says Kakoli Banerjee, a founding organiser. “It is only by nurturing a sense of pride in our city that we can take care of it better,” adds Sunaina Mandeen, organiser.
Listen to acclaimed conservationists like KT Ravindran, Arun Menon, Shikha Jain and Philippe Toussaint discuss their best practices in restoration, preservation and rebuilding with traditional materials, on Friday (Chamber of Commerce, Rue Suffren, 10 am). The iconic Mairie (18th century town hall), whose fall a year ago triggered the birth of the heritage festival, is the focus of a panel discussion by experts (IFP, 2 pm) where INTACH will also reveal its restoration plans. Ashok Panda of INTACH takes heritage enthusiasts on a special tour of the city’s heritage properties, with access to a few private colonial villas (sign-up event on Sunday).
Words and images
Artistes including Bharatnatyam exponent Anita Ratnam, Koumarane Valavane of Indianostrum theatre, Odissi danseuse Rekha Tandon, and Aurelio of Svaram explore Pondy’s ties with music, dance and theatre on Saturday (La Maison Tamoule, Vysial Street, 2 pm). On Sunday afternoon, hobnob with the city’s sculptors, studio potters and photographers on Pondy’s impact on contemporary visual arts in India (25 Rue Dumas, 2 pm).
This event is a great opportunity to get a guided tour of Golden Bridge Pottery (Thursday, 10 am), or listen to Caribbean soul and jazz by French singer Erika Lernot at Alliance Francaise (next Saturday, 7.30 pm). And don’t miss the Adishakti concert at the Cluny Embroidery Centre on Romain Rolland.
Inauguration this evening at Gandhi Thidal by Shigeru Aoyagi, UNESCO director. From February 5 to 7. Free entry. Register at meetup.com/Pondicherry-Heritage/events. Details: pondicherryheritagefestival.org
Head to the new Craft Bazaar near Chunnambar to catch up with a multimedia resource (accessible by a to-be-launched app) of geotagged heritage spots in the city. Curated by children as part of the Pondicherry interactive mapping project, expect photographs, sketches, poems and memoirs uploaded by the children on these spots. Children can engage and explore heritage through art, music and storytelling at the interactive centre set up at the bazaar.
Restoring the sandy beach — fondly remembered by locals — back along the Promenade, is the focus of the panel discussion on Pondicherry’s Natural Heritage on Saturday. Experts including Nityanand Jayaraman, PondyCan’s Probir Banerjee and Ramana Murthy of National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) weigh in (Chamber of Commerce Hall, 10 am). Sign-up to accompany forest officials on a rare urban forest walk in the woods adjoining the Swadeshi Mills (Saturday, 6.30 am) or go bird watching in Ousteri or Bahour on the outskirts of the city (Sunday, 6.30 am). — Olympia Shilpa Gerald
Mahindra’s latest product borrows heavily from the company’s SUV heritage; however it manages to deliver the goods in a rather compact package. Fitted with the new mFalcon range of gasoline and diesel engines, the KUV100 holds a lot of promise for those who want something that is more than just a regular hatchback. Prices start at Rs 4.42 lakh for the petrol variants and Rs 5.22 lakh for the diesel variants.
New Ford Endeavour
The beast is back and this time it boasts of a slick design, premium interiors and comes packed with an extensive range of features. There are two engine choices, namely the 2.2 litre and 3.2 litre TDCi units, which pack quite a punch. The 4×4 versions get the terrain response system and you can also choose between a manual and an automatic gearbox. The Endeavour has been
priced from Rs 24 lakh onwards
Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe
The GLE 450 AMG Coupe possesses the swooping lines of a coupe, agility of a sports car and the capability of the GLE SUV. It comes kitted out with a host of creature comforts that will leave you pampered, however it is the 0-100kmh run in 5.7 seconds that will leave you floored! This thoroughbred can be yours for Rs 86 lakh
Some of the hottest cars and bikes at the Delhi Auto Expo 2016, Asia’s largest motoring eventThe big 8
Some of the hottest cars and bikes at the Delhi Auto Expo 2016, Asia’s largest motoring event
It’s that time again, when the Indian automotive industry congregates in New Delhi to showcase all the excitement in store this year. Auto Expo 2016, from February 5 to 9, is expected to host over 1,500 participants from 20 plus countries. The massive line-up will include some of the biggest names in the business, and not just in India. With an audience of close to 7,00,000 expected to turn up, you’d do best to arm yourself with our list — of some of the must-see cars and bikes on display this year.
The world’s favourite muscle car has been speculated to be on its way to India for a while now, but this time, it’s actually here. The mighty Ford Mustang will not only be on display at the Auto Expo, but will also be available to those who wish to buy it! While there are many engine options available abroad, the Mustang simply cannot be missed thanks to its legendary aura and slick current-gen design.
Based on the Honda Brio hatchback platform, the BR-V compact SUV is something that everyone has been waiting for with bated breath. There’s stiff competition brewing for the BR-V already with the Hyundai Creta and Renault Duster taking the lead and with the Maruti Vitara Brezza also being unveiled but interested folk will still have to wait till 2017 (most likely) before they can buy a BR-V.
If the Mustang is legendary, then this supercar-killer from Japan is God – or Godzilla as its nickname goes. Packed with electronics that keep things in control and that glue-like traction control system, the Nissan GT-R has been the subject of posters in every boy’s room through the years and this latest version which will be making its way to Indian shores continues to dominate male fantasies all around the world.
All set to take on the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and the Mercedes C Class will be the Jaguar XE sedan built at Jaguar-Land Rover’s plant in Pune. The all-aluminium chassis XE gets rear wheel drive, two variants of the 2-litre petrol engine and a choice of either six or eight-speed automatic transmissions. This one’s going to be one cool cat when it comes to road presence!
When Ducati launched the Diavel, it took motorcycle design to a whole new level of evil and now they’ve topped it off with the XDiavel ‘power cruiser’ at EICMA 2015. The 1262cc, 156bhp belt-driven XDiavel is definitely going to top off our list of motorcycles you just can’t miss at the Auto Expo this year. After all, nothing beats a sinister-looking motorcycle from the Italians, does it?
TVS-BMW G 310 R
Aiming straight for the KTM Dukes will be the BMW G310R jointly developed with TVS and while we drooled over pictures of this promising motorcycle a few months ago, we’ll get to catch it in the flesh next week. Armed with a radical backward-tilted engine and some very potent riding dynamics, this will be the bike to watch out for in the more common performance segment.
The winged-logo Japanese manufacturer will be looking to bolster its performance biking portfolio in 2016 and at the forefront of that onslaught could be the extremely potent CBR500R. The versatile machine is expected to be launched officially later this year at a rather affordable price point and we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this one – seems like it could be one of the best fits in Indian conditions.
(Introducing a new pitstop for modern-day car and bike enthusiasts. Featuring the latest machines, reviews, roadtrips, and more. By a team of automotive insiders, who call themselves MotorScribes)
We all know about the Yamaha R1, but when that mad litre-bike sheds its skin, it turns out to be even more menacing. Looking at both the bikes is like seeing Stallone in a suit and then catching him in the gym mid-workout! The MT-10 will no doubt be
one of the biggest attractions at Auto Expo this year.
Final Destination 5 (Horror), WB, 4.50 pm
Cast: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Tony Todd
Sam Lawton (D’Agosto) is on his way to a company retreat with his colleagues when they approach a bridge. Lawton gets a premonition that it will collapse killing everybody except him and his girlfriend Molly Harper (Bell). He manages to warn the others in time, and they all escape. However, soon two of his friends die under mysterious circumstances. As time goes by, death seems to follow the others, too. Will Lawton and Harper survive? Actor Miles Fisher released a tie-in parody video, for his single New Romance, featuring the lead actors in the film.
Zero Dark Thirty (Thriller/ Action), Pix, 8.59 pm
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt
CIA agent Maya (Chastain) is transferred to Pakistan with one mission: to find Osama Bin Laden. After sustained interrogations of detainees and backtracking of old files, she comes across the name of Abu Ahmed, a high-level informant, whose whereabouts are unknown. With the help of her colleague Dan (Jason Clarke), she sets up surveillance teams to find Ahmed’s location. The operation leads them to a fortified bungalow in Abbottabad. Confident that Bin Laden is inside, Maya tries to convince her superiors to order a raid. Will she succeed? The screenplay was originally about the unsuccessful manhunt for Bin Laden, but was re-written after he was killed.
Saturday, January 30
Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap (Action/Comedy). Zee Cinema HD, 6.04 pm
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Raveena Tandon, Prakash Raj, Sonu Sood
ACP Karan Malhotra (Sood) is trying to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai bomb blasts to justice. Worried, underworld gangster Kabir (Raj) hires ex-convict Vijju (Bachchan) to kill Karan. As he sets out to complete his mission, he comes across his estranged wife Sita (Hema Malini) and an old flame, Kamini (Tandon). As Vijju grapples with these two chance meetings, there are some in Kabir’s camp who are against Vijju and try to jeopardise his mission. The movie was completed in under two months.
The November Man
(Action), HBO, 11.03 pm
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko
Peter Devereaux (Brosnan) is a retired CIA agent who goes back into the field after he is requested by his former chief, John Hanley, to extract an agent, Natalia Ulanova, from Russia. However, the current CIA chief, Perry Weinstein, orders another agent, David Mason, to kill her because he is convinced that the Russians have captured her. With evidence pointing to war crimes committed by the Russian candidate, for the president, in Natalia’s possession, her position is vulnerable. Though Devereaux attempts to save her, it is too late. But he does get the evidence. Will he make sure it does not end up in the wrong hands? Luke Bracey replaced Bradley Cooper for
Sunday, January 31
Singh is Bling (Comedy), Zee Cinema, 9 pm
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Kay Kay Menon
Uneducated and happy-go-lucky Raftaar Singh (Kumar) decides to work for his father’s friend in Goa, after his father gives an ultimatum—take up a job or marry a girl of his choice. Meanwhile, Sara (Jackson), from Romania, escapes to Goa with a mafia gang leader, Mark (Menon)—who wishes to marry her—in hot pursuit. Sara is given refuge by the very man Singh is working for, and he soon finds himself in charge of her safety. Unable to communicate with Sara, as he doesn’t know English, he hires Emily (Lara Dutta) as a translator, leading to hilarious situations. Meanwhile, Mark is still determined to get Sara. This is Dutta’s comeback movie.
The Salton Sea (Crime),
HBO Hits HD, 9.15 pm
Cast: Val Kilmer, Vincent D’Onofrio
Dany Parker (Kilmer) is a drug addict, who leads a double life. While on the one hand he is an informant for two cops, Morgan and Garcetti, on the other he is an FBI informant as well—providing leads on Morgan and Garcetti and trying to set them up in a sting operation. Meanwhile, Danny is also attempting to strike a meth deal with a drug lord, Pooh Bear (D’Onofrio). But on the night of the deal, things go awry, and Danny gets shot. Morgan and Garcetti arrive at the scene and rescue him. But he kills them, as they were the ones responsible for Danny’s wife’s murder. Now his double life threatens to catch up with him. This is the director, DJ Caruso’s, debut feature film.
58th Annual Grammy Nominee Special, Vh1, Monday, 7 pm
Meet the nominees of this year’s Grammy Awards, which takes place on February 15. While Kendrick Lamar is leading the list, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Maroon 5, Skrillex and Diplo, and Justin Bieber, among several other artistes, are in the race for the
prestigious award, too.
Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged (Season 5),
MTV, Saturday, 8 pm
This week, Bengaluru-based Indian folk/fusion band, Swarathma, will take centre stage. The line up features Vasu Dixit (vocals, guitar), Pavan Kumar KJ (percussion, vocals), Varun Murali (guitar, vocals), Sanjeev Nayak (violin, vocals) and Jishnu Dasgupta (bass guitar, vocals). Watch them belt out fresh versions of their popular compositions.
Mad Men, FX, Friday, 11 pm
Set in the 1960s, the series follows
the personal and professional lives of people working at the Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue, New York. The ad agency is led by Don Draper, whose triumphs and personal dramas—as he juggles his job, family and affairs—keep us entertained.
Asterix: The Mansions of God
Director: Alexandre Astier,
Cast: Roger Carel, Lorant Deutsch, Laurent Lafitte
In this 3D animated movie, Emperor Julius Caesar has mighty plans for the rebellious Gaulish village. He wants to establish Roman colonies and call it ‘The Mansions of Gods’. But the Gauls have different plans.
Did you know: Part of the well-known Asterix comic series, this movie contains references to the current political events in France.
Director: Milap Zaveri
Cast: Sunny Leone,
Tusshar Kapoor, Vir Das
This adult comedy, which has Leone in her first double role, is about two sex addicts and their escapades. Expect jokes with lots of sexual innuendos.
Did you know: Riteish Deshmukh, who does a cameo in the movie, is reportedly upset because the makers are “blatantly” using him for their promotions, diverging from their contract.
The sequel to horror-comedy Aranmanai, follows the same format. With three female leads and horror elements, hero Siddharth sorts out the mystery of a spooky house and a ghost.
Did you know: Sundar C is producing Hello Naan Pei Pesuren, by debutant director S Baskar, whom he spotted on a short-film making show.
Actor, producer, UN ambassador. Our multitasker Farhan Akhtar is many things, and is in Chennai next weekend
This is not a great time to interview Farhan Akhtar—the actor has just announced his separation from wife of 14 years, Adhuna. And though his latest release, Wazir, is being circulated as a hit, critics have been particularly harsh on the actor. Not unexpected, considering he has had to match wits with the indomitable Amitabh Bachchan. But he has a concert lined up in the city next month, at the Amir Mahal, and I find myself exchanging perfunctory greetings with the actor over the phone. We start with his apparent plans to bring out a single. “Yes. This is a part of a lot of material I have written over the years and I am just getting it out in some way. I think a single is the best way to start,” offers the Mumbai-based actor. The title will be announced officially.
His next big release, Rock On!! 2, the sequel to the successful Rock On!!, is getting ready, with a release date marked in November. Produced by Akhtar and Riteish Sidhwani (Excel Entertainment), the majority is shot in Shillong and reportedly focusses on the conflicts in the North-East. Though he begins by saying he “can’t discuss creativity and content of Rock On much,” Akhtar admits on a personal level that it was “nice to go back to the sets, the character and music.” They have more or less retained the same cast, though Shujaat Saudagar has replaced Abhishek Kapoor as director. “It was a nice happy reunion of all the characters. There are new members joining the band, like Shraddha Kapoor and Shashank Arora—and they bring in their own musical influence that changes the sound of the band,” says the actor. For the first edition, he had learnt the guitar. Has he learned a new instrument this time around? “No, I am still learning to play the guitar in Rock On!! 2. I don’t think it is possible to stop learning—these musical instruments, you can keep learning till you die,” is the laughing rejoinder by the 42-year-old.
Akhtar is known to be selective about his roles. Dil Dhadakne Do was his only release last year, and that was more of a special appearance. “When I read a script, I just want to be excited — that’s the predominant factor. On some levels, it is like you are the audience of that movie. You are getting to read, experience and see it like an audience. You want to be engaged by it,” explains the actor about his selection process. His last directorial was Don 2 (2011). Planning anything new? “Not at the moment, but definitely on the cards.”
Apart from Rock On!! 2 — Akhtar and Sidhwani are producing Bar Bar Dekho, a romantic comedy directed by newcomer Nithya Mehra and the biggie Raees with Shah Rukh Khan. “You want to enjoy the process, the script. Then you want the right people to play those characters,” says Akhtar.
Cause and effect
Akhtar is one of the most proactive actors on social media. Kalki Koechlin once described him as “one of the rare advocates of feminism in Bollywood.” MARD (Men against Rape and Discrimination) is a social campaign launched by him. “I don’t think you have to be a celebrity of any description to contribute to a social cause. I think those are two completely different sides to us. It is important to contribute, be responsible and make things better, if I can, in my own way. As long as some change must be propagated we must keep trying,” he signs off.
On February 6. Farhan Akhtar Live is presented by Touch and is in support of Vajra, Pooja Malhotra’s NGO for spreading awareness about women’s safety. Tickets (from `1,000) available on in.bookmyshow.com and eventjini.com Details: 9940164454
Director: David O Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
The semi-fictionalised biopic of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), sees an unemployed housewife who becomes a millionaire by inventing the Miracle Mop. But the story goes beyond the business of mops, to her work with TV producer Neil Walker (Cooper). It’s also a tale about her supremely dysfunctional family that often lands in comical situations, and how Mangano handles the roller-coaster of emotions in her life. A good watch.
— Team Indulge
Director: Raja Krishna Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrit Kaur
The film retells the historic event of the Kuwait evacuation in the ’90s. Indian construction tycoon Ranjit Katyal’s (Kumar) world comes crashing down when Saddam Hussein’s men invade the Gulf country. Instead of escaping to safety, he stays back and strategises the evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians stranded there. While Kumar delivers his career-best, the director simplifies the daunting evacuation process, which was done with the help of 488 Air India flights.
— Team Indulge
Moondram Ulaga Por
Director: Sugan Karthi
Cast: Sunil Kumar, Akhila
Set in 2025, against the backdrop of a fictional Indo-China war, it’s about an Indian soldier captured and interrogated by a Chinese colonel. A theme of this complexity warrants a treatment that is mature, sensible and gives a realistic feel. But the execution is amateurish, with the debutant director bogged down by the sheer magnitude of the concept he has chosen. Bold, ambitious and experimental, the film is a case of good intentions gone haywire.
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