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Monthly Archives: January 2016

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    While everyone is betting on actress Brie Larson at the Academy Awards, she talks about putting other actors before herself

    AMERICAN actress Brie Larson is in the spotlight. Besides drawing attention in a shimmery halter-neck Calvin Klein gown at the recent Golden Globes—receiving the Best Actress in Drama award—the Trainwreck star is also being touted as the best actress hopeful at the Oscars. And why not? The 26 year-old blew minds with her role as Joy “Ma” Newsome in Room. By Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, she portrays an anguished mother, who escapes along with her son, after being held captive by an abusive husband for seven years. She speaks about the new recognition and her next.

    On how Ma’s character in the book is different from her character in the film
    The character of Ma (in the book) is not a complete one. It’s told from her five-year-old son’s perspective. Everything about Room has a sort of dreamy innocence to it, and you don’t get to see the complexity of his Ma. The movie became a great opportunity to make Ma three-dimensional and to show all the complexities and all of the ways the room is wearing her down.

    How does this new recognition feel?
    The moments that I feel a huge sense of accomplishment are actually the smaller ones, not really the bigger ones. There are times I’ve spoken to people after the screening — seeing their reaction and hearing how the movie moved them, and being reminded of its importance and power.

    Lenny Abrahamson said you had to work overtime because you were coaching (child actor) Jacob.
    When I agreed to do this movie, I agreed to take responsibility for this child. Building a real relationship and a deep friendship with Jacob was incredibly important to the experience of making the movie. Some of my own performance had to be put aside in order to be there for him.

    Do you feel Room has a European sensibility, as it puts artistry before traditional-format storytelling?
    Absolutely. I remember the first time I watched playback on some of the footage. I told him, ‘Oh my gosh, I see it looks just like a European film. My dreams are coming true.’ And then Lenny was laughing and going, ‘Oh jeez, and here I thought I was making my first American film.’ I do think it has a sort of rawness to it that we don’t see in most American cinema. Also, we’ve got a Canadian production designer, an Irish director and screenwriter, a British DP, and I’m an American — a group of different backgrounds, but looking at the same thing together.

    How’s the shoot for Kong: Skull Island going?
    It’s been amazing. We’re shooting in gorgeous locations, and it’s all outside — just so different from most things I have done. And it’s very physical. I find it really exciting to try and learn more about this medium. I think bigger movies like this give you an opportunity to retell the same old stories in an accessible way.
    Room releases on January 29.

    — Team Indulge

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      After several supporting roles, Swara Bhaskar has an award-winning movie and a bold experiment coming up

      SWARA BHASKAR has played supporting roles in more than a dozen movies in the last six years and is all set for her big break this year. In fact, Nil Battey Sannata, which covered the festival circuit last year and won Bhaskar the best actress award at the Silk Road film Festival in China, is scheduled to release here in April. It sees her playing the mother of a 15-year-old. “Nil Battey Sannata is a powerful story and I was sure it would be extremely challenging. I took a big risk with the age difference and it paid off,” she begins.

      Writing her script
      Bhaskar has been making all the right moves ever since she shifted from Delhi to Mumbai to become an actor. You will remember her from mainstream Bollywood movies like Tanu Weds Manu, Guzarish, Raanjhanaa and the recent Salman Khan-starrer, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. “Thankfully, my journey has not been too easy or too difficult, and being part of commercial cinema has helped me get noticed by the industry and secure worthy projects,” she observes.

      One of them is Anaarakali Araawaali, where she plays a feisty orchestra party singer who performs lewd, sexually-charged songs at public functions in the city of Arrah, Bihar. “I have always played goody-goody roles but in Araawaali, I had the chance to explore the dark sexuality of a daring rural woman in a highly volatile environment,” she explains. Incidentally, there is more to her than her acting chops, for the actress writes screenplays and recently won a Fellowship at Asia Society India Centre for her script, Split Ends. Bhaskar also finds time to actively support social causes and is part of the Swaang music band, which creates protest songs on issues like women safety and armchair activism.Calling herself an unapologetic feminist but prefers to keep her real and reel life independent of eachother

      Best of both
      She recalls how she was a rank outsider with few contacts but big dreams when she moved to Mumbai. “It is difficult to get good opportunities and I have often wondered how audacious I was to say ‘no’ to many projects”. Bhasker now swings comfortably between mainstream commercial blockbusters and independent alternative films. Content with her progress, she is looking forward to the response to Nil Battey Sannata. After all, a lot went into Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s film, with the director referring to how Bhaskar spent time in Agra to study the culture and put on several kilos to play the mother.

      — Rahul Dev

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        Airlift

        Director: Raja Krishna Menon
        Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrit Kaur

        The film retells the story of India’s historic event of the Kuwait evacuation in the ’90s. Here, Indian construction tycoon Ranjit Katyal’s (Kumar) world comes crashing down when Saddam Hussein’s men invade Kuwait. While Katyal could have escaped to a safer haven by leveraging his clout, he stays back and strategises the evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians stranded in the Gulf country. Kumar delivers his career best performance. While the director has simplified what would have been a rather daunting evacuation process, done with the help of 488 Air India flights, the film is highly recommended. — TI

        Joy

        Director: David O Russell
        Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper

        It’s a half-fictionalised biopic of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), an unemployed housewife who becomes a millionaire by inventing the ‘Miracle Mop’. But the story is beyond the business of mops, which gets her to work along with TV producer Neil Walker (Cooper). It’s also a tale about her supremely dysfunctional family that often leads to comical situations, and how Mangano handles the roller-coaster of emotions in her life. A good watch for sure. — TI

        The 5th Wave

        Director: J Blakeson
        Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Zackary Arthur

        Cassie Sullivan (Moretz) is a happy-go-lucky high school girl. Her world shatters when an aliencraft lands in her neighbourhood in Ohio, and unleashes four waves of increasingly deadly attacks on Earth. Now, she is endlessly on the run trying to save her younger brother Sam (Arthur), with help from her crush, Parish (Robinson). The film is based on Rick Yancey’s 2013 novel of the same name, but doesn’t do justice to it. The dialogues are ridiculous, and direction lacks the punch. Watch it only if you don’t judge
        sci-fi movies.
        — Team Indulge

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          Back in the ring
          Hitting theatres today is Irudhi Suttru, a bilingual (Saala Khadoos in Hindi) centered on boxing. Directed by Sudha Prasad, the film has a lot going for it. It marks Madhavan’s return to Tamil screen after a hiatus. The actor—in his new avatar as a boxing coach—sports a rugged look that flatters him. Also, real life boxer Ritika has been roped in to play his protege. Madhavan had earlier remarked that the film was “super rewarding and a life changing experience”.

          Scare fest
          What’s a weekend without a horror-comedy to regale fans of the genre? This Friday, it’s Aranmanai-2, a sequel to actor-director-producer Sundar C’s Aranmanai. The ensemble cast includes Siddharth, Trisha, Hansika, Poonam Bajwa, Vaibhav and Soori, apart from Sundar C himself. A 103-foot-tall Amman statue—created by art director Gururaj and used in the climax—is supposed to be one of the highlights of the film.

          Life in focus
          “Human life is valuable. No one has the right to play with it. And this is what I’ve tried to convey in Sethu Bhoomi,” says director Kenthiriyan Muniyasamy. A family drama gearing for a February release, it has Thaman and Samskruthi in the lead. While Illaiyaraja was the composer for the director’s earlier film, this time he has introduced siblings Monish-Bharati to score the music—as he was “impressed with their potential”. Incidentally, Muniyasamy also plays a crucial character in the plot.

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            Sunny speaks her mind

            Sunny Leone takes on her biggest acting challenge this week—in her first double role, as sisters Lily and Laila—in adult comedy Mastizaade. Leone is a fan of the genre and did not find the content outrageous or over the top as, having lived in North America, she has had a great deal of exposure to the genre. Speaking of the adult comedy space, she said many American actors, such as Jennifer Aniston, have had very good careers working in comedies. “I use the example of We’re the Millers. Some of the scenes are outrageous, but I so remember them. They still put a smile on my face because they were so crazy and funny,” she says, adding, “I think about someone like Jennifer Aniston who has the most amazing career—being on Friends and in so many other serious movies and TV shows—and when I watch We’re the Millers I don’t think ‘oh my gosh so vulgar, she’s gone into this zone that is totally outrageous’. She plays a stripper in the movie for goodness sakes. My views are obviously different because I was raised in a different country.” So what was Leone’s reaction when director Milap Zaveri gave her the script for Mastizaade? “I thought ‘this is amazing and so funny’. It’s outrageous and crazy and I want to make a comedy.”

            Falling apart

            The faith of Bollywood insiders and its fans was rocked once again last week with the announcement that Farhan Akhtar and his partner were parting ways. This has been the biggest and most sudden split since Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne two years ago. Rumours have been flying as to the reasons behind this parting, with the loudest one being Akhtar’s alleged dalliance with a co-star of a recent film. The latest theory is that it might, in fact, be Akhtar’s closeness to the divorced co-star of his latest release. While this is one scandal that’s jolted Bollywood, the other one being spoken of in hushed tones is a light-eyed, and now single, A-list actor spending significant time with a Delhi-based, married lady from a top Bollywood film family. Plus we are all closely watching developments in the Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif break-up saga. Indeed there’s never
            a dull moment in B-town.

            Taking a stand

            Imran Khan recently returned from a family holiday in Goa where he’d said he was looking forward to taking daughter Imara swimming and checking out several off-the-beaten-track restaurants. Back in Mumbai briefly and he jetted off again, this time to the colder climes of North America. To prepare for this leg of his travels, Khan was working on getting an international driver’s license so he could enjoy driving himself in California when visiting his father and friends. But the main purpose of the American sojourn is to attend a seminar on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights at the Harvard University India Conference 2016 in Boston. Khan has often and vocally supported the rights of the gay population. Alongside Khan on the panel that addresses the Changing Landscape of the Media and Entertainment Industry In India are stand up comic Papa CJ and Balaji Telefilms CEO, Sameer Nair. As for films, following last year’s Katti Batti, which failed to light up the box office, Khan is treading softly before signing on any new projects.

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              Sadda Haq’s Sanyukta Aggarwal is now aiming for Mars

              Things are looking up in Sanyukta Aggarwal’s (played by Harshita Gaur) life in the TV series Sadda Haq, which kicked off its season two recently. She has moved past her divorce with college friend Randhir Singh Shekhawat (played by Param Singh), and is taking charge of her career. This time around, she will be seen holding her own in a space research centre that is shortlisting scientists for a Mars mission.
              It’s probably the first time an Indian TV series will pan out with  the backdrop of a space centre, which is one of the many reasons why Gaur decided to continue her stint with the show. The other reason being all the adulation that’s been coming her way.

              In season one, we saw her take up mechanical engineering against the wishes of her father, and make a mark in ‘a man’s world’ (it’s the theme of the show). Gaur explains, “Many girls have taken up engineering after watching the show. One girl told me that her life is similar to Sanyukta’s. She comes from a conservative family, is studying mechanical engineering, and even has a boy like Randhir in her life. A young mother once wrote to me, ‘Should I name my baby girl Sanyukta or Harshita?’ I was touched.”

              But then she cracks up. “You know, 90 per cent of our viewers are girls. That’s also because they are crazy about Randhir!” Will fans get to see Aggarwal and Shekhawat together, we ask? “They will cross paths at the space centre. But what happens next is something only the writers can tell,” she concludes.
              Monday-Saturday, 6.30 pm
              on Channel V

              — Barkha Kumari

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                The X-files returns after a gap of 13 years

                The legendary show on all things paranormal comes back on television, as creator Chris Carter revives the famous duo Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) after 13 years. In an interview, Carter talks about bringing The X-Files back to life.

                What do you like the most about being back with The X-Files?
                It’s a chance to do good work. When I got the call, I knew it was a chance to tell good stories. I had some in mind and you will see that in episode four—it’s something I have been thinking about for a while. It’s how I wanted to come back and reinvestigate it.

                When you were about to shoot that first scene, what were your initial thoughts?
                It wasn’t like it was a loaded moment. It was just a huge day of work and you run like crazy just to get the work done. It wasn’t like we had a chance to smile and enjoy the moment.

                What plans do you have for the romantic tension between Scully and Mulder?
                I think the romantic tension is always there, whether they’re together or apart. So, I think that Tad O’Malley comes in here and creates a bridge between the two characters that are not living under the same roof.

                How did you know it was the right moment to come back?
                Well, I got a phone call, so I knew that they wanted to do it now. But I also knew that historically, I should say, we’re in a period of history when it’s a really good time to tell The X-Files story. It’s a period of paranoia. It’s a period where people are talking about conspiracies again. It’s a period where your government has admitted they’re spying on you. So, we’re living in a brave new world, if you will.

                Premiers on January 30. 9pm. Star World Premiere HD

                — Team Indulge

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                  Car and Country will see an automobile aficionado from Kochi drive through little-known English countrysides

                  Anyone would want to be Deepak Narendran. The man is a qualified dentist, runs a successful national chain of hotels (The Central Group), and has a Ferrari and a special-edition Lamborghini in his stable. Now, the Kochi-based entrepreneur  has his own television show, Car and Country, where he drives through the scenic countrysides of England, Scotland and Wales in luxurious super cars like the Mercedes SLS AMG, McLaren 12C and the Ferrari 458. Premiering this Sunday on Fox Life, the show documents the prowess of the machines and explores little-known towns, focussing on its people and culture.

                  Nature calls
                  “You can drive super cars through any street in the world and you will not find a single person who is not awestruck. Such is the marvel of engineering that has gone into them. And to drive these machines through some of the pristine landscapes of the world is another delight,” begins Narendran, who will host the show with two other British television presenters, Lucia Coward and Danni Menzies. Narendran had pitched the idea to Fox International’s Middle East head, Francesco Denti, last year, who immediately gave the nod.
                  He says one of his favourite episodes is the one where he drives through the winding roads of Glencoe highlands in Scotland—the same roads that Daniel Craig drove his Aston Martin on, in Skyfall. In other episodes, the hosts explore the 15-century old Bamburgh Castle, try their hands at clay pigeon shooting and even bump into a Jack in the Green— participants in the English May Day celebrations, who dress in foliage.

                  On the Euro trail
                  “Our filming locations are some of the best domestic tourist spots, so we meet a lot of local tourists on the show. We also travel to villages to observe the (undiluted) culture. We came across a lot of vintage cars on the show, too, as the UK has a lot of these old beauties,” says the 43-year-old, who is still in a daze after encountering a classic MG car in the hinterlands of Scotland. “We are also in discussions to film the show in France and Italy, which viewers can expect to see in the coming seasons. India, too, is at the top of our list of preferred locations,” he ends.
                  Car and Country premieres on January 31 at 1 pm on Fox Life. Details: carandcountry.com

                  —P Peter

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                    Renowned fashion illustrator Gladys Perint Palmer on drawing what she loves

                    Her pen has never stayed still in the last four decades or so that she has been sketching. What started off as fun lessons with her mother (an artist herself) has made Gladys Perint Palmer one of the doyens of fashion illustration, working with top designers like Valentino Garavani and Christian Dior. The executive VP of artistic development, at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, is currently on a seven-city tour of India, to meet educators and students. Her next pitstop is Chennai. A video presentation in hand—introducing the academy, and with alumni interviews with successes like Rajiv Chilaka, the creator of Chhota Bheem—she says she will also give live drawing demonstrations.

                    “I draw very fast, but I write slowly” is the acclaimed artist and author’s favourite quip, and she has proved this time and again. Her visit to India last year saw her sketching women in Chennai’s temples and tourists at the Taj Mahal. “I love drawing people, preferably with interesting (never cute!) faces,” says Palmer, who had unknowingly sketched Sonam Kapoor at a Paris Fashion Week, when she’d spotted the actress sitting in the front row. “The most important aspect of my drawings is the line, along with colour. And so is humour,” she adds.

                    At home with both paper and digital—she uses everything from pens to eagle feathers and ink droppers—she admits she loves her iPad and its Paper53 app. “It has one advantage. I am completely invisible when sketching in a crowded place because everyone is using a pad or a phone,” she shares. But she feels even to use an iPad successfully, it is essential to draw well. “It lays the foundation of design. Life drawing, perspective, colour, blind contour drawing, etc, are all part of the process,” says Palmer, who is getting ready to work on two illustrated books once she gets back home.

                    Sunday, at Taj Coromandel, from 4-6 pm. Details: 66002827

                    —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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                      Hair and make-up experts from the South talk trends and challenges at the Beautypolis Achievers Awards

                      Hair and make-up experts from the South talk trends and challenges at the Beautypolis Achievers Awards

                      LAST Tuesday saw the best of the South Indian beauty industry heading to the Beautypolis Achievers Award at Chennai Trade Centre. Around 90 stalls were seen at the venue, including Max Factor, Balamain Hair and others. Beautypolis, the online portal for all things beauty – from product reviews to make-up tutorials – was launched last October in Mumbai and is headed by Aashish Rego (42) and Allen John (40). “The beauty industry in India is booming. The hair care market itself is worth `4,000 crores and is increasing at a minimum growth of 20 per cent per annum. We provide a platform that links those with a primary interest in the beauty industry – from manufacturers to fashion bloggers,” says John. The event saw celebrities like stylist Joy Crizldaa, regional film actor Ganesh Venkatraman and wife, Tamil actress Nisha Krishnan.
                      Speaking about entrepreneurship CK Kumaravel, the owner of the Naturals beauty salon chain, adds, “By helping one person set up a salon, you cannot set up a franchise. When you enable that one person to set up multiple salons – that’s when you are really successful.” His wife and co-owner of Naturals, Veena Kumaravel picked up the ‘Achievers of the decade award’. Pattanam Rasheed, with 35 years in the regional film and make-up industry, was given the ‘Legend award’. “Most of the youngsters are in the profession for the love of it, and if they are backed by technical know-how as well, the future of the make-up industry looks very bright,” he concludes.
                      The New Indian Express was the print partner for this event.

                      Sridevi Ramesh
                      According to the recipient of emerging artist of the year 2015 for make-up, Sridevi Ramesh, the Arabian look is much in demand these days. “Details like smokey eyes, heavy contouring and messy hair completes the look,” says the bridal make-up expert based in Chennai. She swears by lip colours like red or even orange if you are in the mood to experiment.

                      C Gopinath
                      Gopinath got into hair-styling in 1996. More recently, he had the chance to explore his skills by working in the Oscar-nominated movie, Life of Pi, as well. “Hair extensions are a good option to provide instant volume. Colours trending right now are blonde and browns,” says the Chennai-based hair expert who won the ‘Emerging artist of the year’ in the hair category.

                      Vijayalakshmi Goodapati
                      Comparing hair textures, Goodapati, founder of Mirrors salon and spas, Hyderabad, admits, “North Indians have fine hair, which is easier to deal with when compared to the hair texture here, where each strand is thick.” She also pinned down the look of the season as messy. “It is favoured by college-going girls and at red carpet events alike,” says the winner of ‘Achievers of the decade award’.

                      Product counter
                      While Selvaraj swears by Label M products (from Toni&Guy), “because they are organic!”, to add instant shine to your hair, L’Oreal’s Keratin range would be Goodapati’s pick. Both Sridevi Ramesh and Manjul Gupta prefer Bobbi Brown when it comes to lip colours, especially reds, while Gupta also recommends browns from M.A.C.

                      Manjul Gupta
                      With 30 years of experience, Bengaluru-based Gupta was one of the obvious choices for the ‘Achievers of the decade award’. She believes that people are more open to trying different hairstyles, especially when it comes to styles like the lob (longer bob). “Unkept braids are going to make a big splash this year,” predicts Gupta.

                      Uma Selvaraj
                      The ‘Best hair extension expert’ winner from Toni&Guy, Chennai-based Selvaraj tells us that wigs go by a different name now. “They are called switches and are great for people who want to add more volume or are reluctant to cut their hair.” She also observes that fringes are the extensions in demand right now.

                      — Seema Rajpal

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