Badminton star PV Sindhu, who is all set to score some serious points at the upcoming Malaysian Open next week, talks about life on the court, and off it. By Manju Latha Kalanidhi & Nishad Neelambaran
Two years ago, badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, on a whim, joined his favourite pupil, superstar shuttler Sania Nehwal, in a tough two-on-one game at his training academy in Hyderabad, playing against budding teen star, PV Sindhu. What followed was one of the most exciting matches of her life, says Sindhu, admitting that being able to face two titans without a sliver of doubt in her mind is what makes her what she is today.
Currently ranked world number 12 in women’s badminton, she is the first-ever Indian to win a medal at the World Championships (2013) in the women’s singles category, while breaking into the top 20 in the Badminton World Federation rankings of 2012. Her other achievements include an Arjuna Award in 2013,CNN-IBN’s Indian of the Year (sports) in 2013 and the Padma Shri in 2015, to name a few.
Malaysia seems to be her lucky charm as she made headlines by becoming the first women’s singles player to win two Malaysian Masters titles in its eight editions. Although she did crash out of the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold quarterfinals last month, within 32 minutes, the spirited fighter believes it’s all in a day’s work. Currently, her tour calendar will take her from New Delhi to the Malaysian Open, which begins on April 6, followed by the Singapore Open and the Asian Badminton Championship at the end of the month. She’s also gearing up for the Olympics, for which the qualification rounds are currently on (till May 5). But for now, this 20-year-old’s crosshairs are set on Malaysia.
It couldn’t have been easy for Sindhu to make her mark in a city like Hyderabad, given that it’s home to one of the world’s best players, Gopichand, Olympic champion Nehwal, and doubles specialist Jwala Gutta, among others. But clearly the word ‘impossible’ means little to her, as the gawky Cancerian from Secunderabad managed to break-out and find her own ground. Gopichand, who is not only her coach, but her idol as well, says, “Sindhu always plays a neat game at the net, and her consistency is marvellous. In fact, nothing comes between the game and her.” Academics will take a backseat too, she admits, if it’s about her favourite game. “I am pursuing my MBA (finance) at St Ann’s Degree College for Women, Mehdipatnam, but obviously I can’t give my exams this year. My real exam is on the court,” she smiles.
She picked up the racquet at the age of eight, when she began to learn the basics of the game from legendary coach Mehboob Ali (who also coached top players like Gutta and Nehwal). Later, she joined the Pullela Gopichand Academy in 2008. Interestingly, her parents used to play volleyball for India. “But they never forced me to play it, and supported me when I showed prowess in badminton. I began to play only for fun. I never imagined it would become my profession or that I would be in the world top 20 list,” shares Sindhu. Besides her victory over world number 1, Carolina Marin, at the Denmark Open last year, one of her career highlights (so far) was winning her first bronze medal at the World Championships. But life on the court hasn’t always been a fairy tale. Besides the Swiss Open, where she got knocked out, one of her worst matches was when she lost against a junior Indonesian player, despite leading with a huge gap. “In some matches, if I lose a series of points, I get into this zone where I find everything is against me. And that leads to a series of negative thoughts. This is when the errors begin to happen; the kind I want to kick myself for after the match. However, if I remain focussed and unperturbed, I tend to win back those lost points,” she explains.
And while she appears to be a complete go-getter on the court, Sindhu says that she’s quite chilled out in person. In fact, her laughter, especially after her wins, are famous! “On the court, however, I can get quite menacing,” she reminds us. Incidentally, she finds her inspiration from the other racquet game—tennis. “I love the way Sania (Mirza) puts the country on the global sports map every time she steps on to the court. Also, thinking of Roger Federer’s backhand, and his down-to-earth attitude, and Novak Djokovic’s confident smile, even during a tough match, puts me in good spirits whenever I feel low.”
Sindhu has quite the fan following wherever she goes. “Some of my favourite moments are when I go to college, and the students and faculty want to pose with me for a selfie, and tag me online as well. That is when I feel like a celebrity,” shares the MBA student. But this shuttler shares that she doesn’t let it go to her head. “I feel humbled. Sure I love the adulation, but I behave responsibly amid fans. A lot of selfies are requested at airports, and I always oblige,” she confesses.
The only online space you will find Sindhu on is Instagram (though she has a Twitter account, she retweets more than she tweets). In fact, she barely has time to answer her phone. Her mother, Vijaya, acts as her coordinator, including on this exclusive interview. However, once in a while, you’ll spot the lanky athlete posting a photograph or two online. Needless to say, her 38,000 fans on Facebook, 25,000 followers on Twitter, and 8,000 admirers on Instagram patiently wait for her updates.
“Some of my favourite moments are when I go to college, and the students and faculty want to pose with me for a selfie,
and tag me online as well. That is when I feel like a celebrity”
|Expert speak“Sindhu has got everything in her game to beat the world number 1 today. What I have generally seen is that women players tend to rally a lot. But Sindhu can finish a rally with a sharp shot in the middle of the court due to her height. She has a good attacking game, she is quick on her feet, and has a very strong cross-court smash. I enjoyed watching her performance in last year’s Denmark Open. She had just got back from an injury then, but managed to beat Carolina Marin, then world number 1, in the semi finals. She lost out in the finals to Li Xuerui, but that was a great display of strength, I think. Despite these many pluses, we have seen Sindhu crashing out early in important tournaments. What separates a Nehwal from a Sindhu is consistency. I am not talking about winning the tournaments consistently, but going till the quarterfinals or semis. At this point in her career, she must try to be consistent, and look at going forward in important tournaments, because she hasn’t done well in the last three-four games. She also needs to watch out when the opponent manages to match her pace on the court. That situation gets tricky.”
—Vijay Lancy, CEO,
Prakash Padukone Sports Management
|Coach connect“Sindhu has already beaten most of the top players in the world. It’s just about finding consistency in her game and remaining injury-free, and she can be quite the tough one to play against. That she is one of the tallest badminton players in the circuit works to her advantage, and helps her to execute half smashes really well. At 20, she also has age on her side. She needs to slightly improve her temperament, and work on core strength—which applies to badminton players in general as well—and she has a good future. Her performance at the 2014 World Championship at Copenhagen is my personal favourite. She was way down in the third match and the quarter final, but she fought back.”
—Vimal Kumar, former chief coach of India and Nehwal’s trainer
Addiction: Shopping! Her favourite brands are Zara, Diesel, American Eagle and Levi’s
On the loop: AR Rahman, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and One Direction
Food: Biryani and Italian cuisine
Kicking back: Hard Rock Café, Heart Cup Coffee and Paradise (all in Hyderabad)
Sports icons: Sania Mirza, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic
Speaking of her favourite destinations, Sindhu says, “I love Switzerland and Australia for its weather. But if there is one place I could go to, it would be Las Vegas to try my luck!”
On the plate
No burgers or pizzas for Sindhu, as these foods clash with her stamina build-up. However, she is allowed to cheat once a month, which is when she indulges in biryani from street-side eateries. On other days, she follows a non-spicy, high protein diet.
On the ball
She works out for about seven hours a day. Her trainers, Johnson and Kiran, ensure her routine includes weight training, running, endurance workout, agility training, speed workout and multi-shuttle practices
—With inputs from Barkha Kumari
Directed by K R Vishnu, Appudala Ippudila has Harshika Poonacha and Surya Tej in the lead roles. The comedy-drama also has Suman and Sarath Babu in pivotal roles. Though the movie was set to release last year, the makers announced that the post-production work was wrapped up recently. The movie is set to hit the box office today. Harshika plays the role of an introverted rich girl in the movie. The 2 hour 15 minute film is produced by Pradeep Kumar Jampa. Sunil Kashyap has scored the music for Chaitanya Varma’s lyrics.
Rajadhi Raja is directed by the famous South Indian director Cheran, who won four national, six state and five Filmfare awards for his films. The lead actors in the film are Sharwanand and Nitya Menon. Prakash Raj plays a pivotal role. The film was released by his new company named C2H. This movie was initially named as Yemito Ee Maaya and now, finally it is renamed as Rajadhi Raja. The romance suspense thriller is produced under the banner of Brundaavan Pictures. This is the second film of Nithya with Sharwanand.
Savitri starring Nara Rohith and Nandita Raj is directed by Pavan Sadineni and produced by VB Rajendra Prasad under the banner of Vision Filmmakers.Shravan, who worked with Sadineni in his previous directorial venture, Prema Ishq Kaadhal, was roped in to compose the soundtrack and background score. The movie is about a girl who is crazy about getting married and dreams of life after her marriage.
The social network is engrossing, but it cannot compensate for the printed word
I recently read a quote online which said: Being famous in Facebook is like winning money in Monopoly. It’s not real. So calm down.
For a moment, I was disappointed that all these ‘likes’ really don‘t matter and that all those ‘friends’ are not real. But after a brief pause, I realised how this is the new age way to connect with the world. Who knows how much those friendly neighbours actually mean the concern they show.
I feel that more people react online than offline. Perhaps the garb of a virtual wall helps them to speak their mind out without feeling pressurised. This is perhaps why from stars to great causes to cities to shopping… there is a space to project yourself out there on the social networks.
I have watched my own Facebook following grow from single digit to lakhs. It amazes me how people have the time to like, comment on posts and sometimes even share it. Then I have seen many self-help pages, humorous quotes and more pages that have replaced the need for books, TV and counsellors too. There is a theory for everything.
The most annoying things are the playful posts that come up luring people to find out what fruit they would be or which celebrity they resemble. Some can really flatter while others are downright stupid and irrelevant. I know most of my Hyderabadi friends who actually try these. What surprises me is that even psychologists get dragged into ‘find out when will die’ game posts.
There is adventure, mystery, entertainment and plenty more.
Now one may ask how the digital platform matters to a city geographically. Firstly, mindsets and local culture dictate what trends where. For example, how many Afghan women can dare play ‘find out your husbands in the last seven births?’ Alright that is a bit exaggerated, but you get the drift, right?
Despite numerous events, a lot of traffic, a buzzing environment – a city like ours loves surprises, being engaged playfully etc. We are also keen to socialise and connect with our emotions, updates etc.
Music composer Sai Madhukar comments that it is always great to share professional achievements with all online. On another note, I know of a COO of a major educational institution group who is not even on Facebook but for the right reasons!. He says he has no time.
What we perhaps miss out while being engaged in social networking is reading books.
I know for a fact that reading books is on a different league altogether and spending no amount of time on the social network can compensate for it. Moral of the story: Back to the books.
— The writer is a popular TV show host, radio jockey, professional singer… and most importantly, a hardcore Hyderabadi)
Inspired by stand-up legend Bill Hicks, AIB writer Karunesh Talwar hopes to give a rib tickling performance
A stand-up comedian’s jokes are as good as his last punchline. Luckily, Karunesh Talwar one of the budding stand-up comedians, the punchline is always in its place and delivers what is expected of it.
Born in Ghaziabad and brought up in Mumbai, this 24-year-old strong orator is noted for his work with Vir Das’ Weirdass Comedy and All India Bakchod (AIB).
His journey as a comedian began in 2011 where he performed for the first time at an Open Mic event. “I‘ve been a fan of stand up comedy since I was a child. A lot of my biggest heroes have been comedians, and when I was in college, my friends suggested that I give stand -up a shot considering I was obsessed with watching every show online and offline,” says the young comic.
He has a style that is majorly influenced by stand-up legend, Bill Hicks. It was not surprising when Karunesh confessed about his inspiration for performing on the stage. “He is my favourite comedian because he did stand-up differently and with more empathy and emotion than any comic I’ve seen before or after his time,” says the die-hard fan.
He also closely follows comedians like Mitch Hedberg, Doug Stanhope, Stewart Lee, Brian Regan and Paula Poundstone.
Karunesh was has been associated with AIB for a long time and writes for their online portal and was recently seen performing in On Air with AIB.
Speaking about his journey with the Mumbai-based comedy group, he says, “It was pretty gruelling. Because when there’s so much work you have to pretty much be on it all the time. It taught me how to constantly keep trying to make your product funnier, that nothing is ever done being written and something can always be added to it. Besides, any place where you write a lot of jokes is good for you, because it makes you better at writing jokes.” He is excited about his trip to the city as loves biriyani and the audience. “The stand-up circuit in Hyderabad is relatively new, and the comics are doing a fantastic job of writing constantly and finding new venues to keep performing in. Comedians only get better by getting on stage, so I think the more shows the Hyderabad comics are able to create, the quicker their growth will be.”
Expecting a ‘small and nice audience’ for his show titled Paka Mat Na Mote Karunesh will be in the city on April 2 at Mocha Cafe in Banjara Hills. Price: Rs 499 per person. Details: bookmyshow.com
— Nishad Neelambaran
The Australian Film Showcase festival from April 2 gives insights into the country’s bustling creative industry
f world cinema fascinates you, don’t miss out on the inaugural edition of the Australian Film Showcase starting Saturday. Movie buffs will get to watch ten Australian films for the first time on the big screen as part of the nine-day fest.
The line up comprises Mad Max, Kate Winslet’s stylish comedy- The Dressmaker (first time in India) and Force of Destiny- set in India and Australia starring Shahana Goswami and David Wenham. Renowned Australian producer Robyn Kershaw (producer of one of the showcase films- musical romcom Bran Nue Dae and producer of cricket comedy Save Your Legs which is set in India) will interact with the audience. So will David Redman, producer and member of the council of Screen Producers Australia.
Comparing Indian and Australian movies, Kershaw who is currently with Dollhouse Pictures on their first feature film and a number of Indian filmmakers including Nandita Das, recalls watching her first Indian movie in 1982 and getting enchanted by the audience celebration as much as the film. “It was a revelatory experience and has kept me engaged in Indian cinema year after year. I have seen it evolve over this period. I love the dynamic storytelling and visuals of Indian films.”
Drawing comparisions to the Indian musicals, Kershaw says that her production Bran Nue Dae is similar to the structure and delight of an Indian film – it has a nice juicy romance in the middle and it uses songs to drive the story – a young man who yearns to be home – whichevery one can relate to.
Down Under has given Hollywood superstars such as Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Who are the others to look out for? Rose Byrne and Elizabeth Debicki, she says. Considering the island country is enjoying dramas and comedies, one can expect more of the Mad Max variety from their studios soon. “There is a major creative force in Australia. I have watched on a number of occasions the work of the Australians in creating San Francisco in San Andreas, and while I am yet to see Gods of Egypt, I am so looking forward to the next Lego movie and Astro boy,” she says.
— Manju Latha Kalanidhi
Biryani is back
Spice Junxion, Taj Deccan, is hosting Biryani Food Festival. Biryanis from cuisines of Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and Malabar. It’s on till April 3. Price: Rs 625++ non-veg and `595++ for veg. Time: lunch and dinner. Details: 66663939
SodaBottleOpenerWala is celebrating ‘Over the Hump: Under the Bar’. They add more varieties to their stock. Ans as you drink DJ Sami plays his tunes for you. Check it out on Wednesdays. Price: on request. Details: 68888681
ASEAN Nights, The Novotel, Shamsabad is offering on its platter a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items such as dim sums, sushi, noodles, herbal sorbets and other delectable delights. Price: Rs 1,849 ++ taxes. Time: 7 pm-11 pm. Details: 66250000
The hotel is celebrating its anniversary and it will continue till the end of July
Luxury five star hotel Park Hyatt, Hyderabad turns four this year. Hence the anniversary celebrations have begun and will continue till the end of July this year. The celebrations revolve around menus, drinks, spa facilities, tours, suite and more. ‘The Blue Hours’ that this luxury hotel offers is about indulgence experience of their wide range of old and new world wines, classic spirits and an elaborate snack menu which is available at half the price every day from 3 pm-9 pm.
At the same time a French-Canadian singer, Melanie Le Blanc will play her music at Tre Forni Bar. From the menu of the restaurant you can a wide variety of gourmet delights. Other than that they have gourmet safaris for `4,000 inclusive of all taxes.
To experience relaxation they provide a one hour pearl dust spa therapy to rejuvenate the skin and complimentary 30 minutes of floral bath of mogra and rose crystals. Price: Rs 9,500 per person. Details: 49491222
If you are looking for quirky places in Hyderabad that offers a combo of lip-smacking food and out-of-the-box environment, then perhaps the recently-opened bar-restaurant Free Flow: Traffic Bar at Jubilee Hills fits the bill. You’ve always hated signal posts and traffic, but you will fall in love with it here. The place looks like a traffic junction complete with signal lights, road-dividers, reflectors.
Located on third and fourth floors the place comes alive after dark. As you enter you see a traffic signal blinking its red, yellow and green lights that fall on the rooftop which is also the sitting area. Behind that traffic signal is a huge graffiti of a sports car on the wall and beneath that the DJ plays all the Rock numbers. But the sound coming from huge LED TV on the wall fades as the music picks up. Up the mezzanine floor we saw youngsters celebrating birthday with a cake, grub and choicest drinks. The bar is huge at both the floors.
One floor is air-conditioned while the other is the rooftop where all the action happens. On breezy late evenings the old-fashioned lights that you may have seen dangling from old railway stations – the dim yellow light from the bulbs – seems soothing . On the walls and ceiling are water-pipes in bright red colour amid which are stickers with sign like ‘Bottle Ahead’.
The place offers a variety of food choices beginning from starters, appetizers, soups, main courses, biryanis and even, quite surprisingly thalis. For the starters we had Buffalo Chicken Wings – chicken fried with different spices and sauces. It was hot on the tongue, but good in taste. The pieces were cooked tenderly. What we also liked was Bheja Fry Pav. It was goat brain cooked with spices and served on a platter with pav. The flavour was balanced and blended well with bread loaves that were lightly-toasted with butter. Other than that there’s a choice of Tomato Basil Bruschetta, Quesadilla, Calzone and platters of mutton, chicken and fish kebabs. Sadly, salad list has only three items. The non-veg main course is appetising with Norwegian Fresh Salmon Steak, Lamb Chops with Apple Marmalade and Prawns Peri Peri. It’s interesting to find Roghan Josh Biryani in their biryani section. Proprietor Naren Singh Pal informs, “Hyderabad is known for its biryanis. The challenge was to keep something extraordinary. We introduced Roghan Josh Biryani cooked with spices used in the original lamb curry.”Price: `200 onwards ++ taxes. Hard drinks are priced decently as are mocktails. Time: 12 pm to 12 am.
What we liked the best about Free Flow is the way they care for guests especially women. In an emergency, you don’t need to get embarrassed or think of running to the mall that is five kms away. The powder room has sanitary pads, hair-clips, rubber bands, safety pins, combs and even a small sewing-kit just in case the hem or the sleeve of your dress has ripped apart.
Adds Naren, “We don’t charge for this. These items are complimentary to women. We wanted this to be a neighbourbood hangout where people enjoy and feel comfortable.” What put us off were the innumerable spelling errors in the menu card where beer reads as ‘bear’ and broccoli isn’t written correctly along with basil written as ‘besil’. But overall it’s a good place to chill as celebrities frequent the bar. We spotted Tollywood star Rana Daggubati chilling with his friends over his mug of beer.
— Saima Afreen
From Sling bags to potlis, Delhi-based fashion designer will revamp your collection of bags
Your collection of designer bags are now going to get a luxury touch to it. Celebrity fashion designer Ritu Kumar has now launched her collection of bags in Hyderabad. The designer has introduced new frame slings, box clutches and potlis.
The collection is designed with hand embroidery and brocade silk, suede , jaquard, net and poly satin.A few of her new bags in the frame sling category include Soofia, Mashki and Nissa. These frame slings are made of Dabka and Sequins hand embroidery. The materials used for these bags are Polyester drill, Brocade silk and suede fabric respectively. Soofia is a gold bag with antique embroidery work, Mashki has a heavy tassel made in kasab and an antique metal chain hanging and Nissa is a black bag with antique spade shaped work of bronze on the body.
Apart from this, her collection has box clutches – Kunjara and Saira. Kunjara has a box frame with dabka hand embroidery on drill polyester fabric with floral texture where as, Saira is a clutch with dabka work on fish scale red silk fabric with zari.
Ritu Kumar has also introduced new potli’s to her collection. Nadira, Ayat and Mihr are a few of them. Nadira is a classic bag with dabka work on Turq silk fabric with zari, Ayat has a shiny Gold Gota Patti hand embroidery on chanderi fabric and the Mihr potli has a shiny Gold dabka hand embroidery.
Price range begins from `4,100 – `5,800. Available at Ritu Kumar store in Road No 10, Banjara Hills. Details: 23350506
Youth brand Wrogn’s first standalone store comes to Hyderabad
Hyderabad has become the first home for celebrity fashion brand, Wrogn (pronounced as wrong). Founded by Anjana Reddy and co-founded by cricketing great, Virat Kohli, the brand launched its first standalone at the Forum Sujana Mall in Kukatpally. Under the banner of Universal Sportsbiz Pvt Ltd. (USPL), Wrogn also has equity participation by legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Choosing the city of Nizams as the brands first home, Anjana Reddy says, “Hyderabad has been consistently ranked in the top three cities in terms of sale for us since we have launched both at Shoppers Stop as well as in Myntra. Hyderabad customers are very conscious buyers when it comes to fashion and style and this is what our brand is all about.”
Spread over 1,200 sq.ft. the store works on an upside-down concept, the outlet defines the rebellious theme of the brand. “Wrogn is known for challenging the normal lifestyle. For instance, every shirt would have their pockets on the left, but our garments would have it on the right. Similarly the jeans would have coin pockets on the left instead of right,” said Abhijeet Choudhury, Sales Manager, South. “People will now have more choices of Wrogn unlike before as we had limited space in Shoppers Stop,” he added.
The brand which was launched in 2014 in the brick and mortar format has more than 250 designs at display in the store. Shruti, Design Chief, Wrogn says, “Virat Kohli is a classic player and loves challenges. We wanted to challenge the daily norms of clothing and make it look effortless for our customers.. Hence, Wrogn is known for breaking the stereotypes. Even though it looks simple and stylish, there is a lot of thought process that goes in behind one product. Virat is also known for his character and we have tried to bring that into our designs.”
The trial room is designed as a fire exit hall with ladders on the wall. The outlet has collection only for men and teenage boys. Adding to its theme being ‘wrong,’ the branding is unusually printed on the back of the shirts and t-shirts.
Speaking about what gives Wrogn the edge over other fashion brands, Anjana Reddy says, “The biggest draw is the product and the quirk which is in the detailing of every aspect of the product. It’s a sophisticated brand for the youth at a competitive price.”
The store has been fit with inverted car chassis. On the other hand, the ceiling is painted in such a way that it looks like a highway. The trial room is also something that is unique to Wrogn. It is designed as a fire exit hall with ladders on the wall. The outlet has collection only for men and teenage boys. Adding to its theme being ‘wrong,’ the branding is unusually printed on the back of the shirts and t-shirts.
The outlet keeps its youthful customers entertained with a special Wrogn Anthem. The collection displayed has shirts, t-shirts, jeans, denims, jackets and pants for men and boys. “Some people don’t like too much of brightness when it comes to clothes. Hence, we have focused on more sober colours,” says Abhijeet.
Promising a huge surprise for their Hyderabadi customers, Nishant Podar, Head of Marketing & Sales, Business Development, USPL, said, “The city will soon get a royal treat from Virat Kohli. It is just because of security reasons that we cannot disclose the dates this soon. Expect him soon in the city.”
The outlet has more than 1,500 products on display and soon will have a separate section for shoes. Price range: `799 – `3,000. Details: 30534092
— Nishad Neelamabaran