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Monthly Archives: August 2016

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     James Whitlow  Delano on water as a photography subject

    FOR someone who has documented environmental issues like Japan’s deadly tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, photos of happy moments may be hard to come by. But for James Whitlow Delano, happiness lies in making a change. “I find an issue that interests me and try to imagine how to visually place the viewer in the lives of the people affected by an environmental challenge—be it deforestation in Borneo or desertification in Mali. I want to create empathy, but the facts must dictate the storyline,” he says, adding that he leaves it up to the viewer to glean a message from his photographs.
    It is advice like this, and much more (be it tips, hands-on training, discussions, etc) that the award-winning reportage photographer will be imparting in his upcoming seven-day workshop on documentary storytelling, at the PondyART festival, at Ousteri Lake, Serenity Beach and Pondicherry Port. “My focus with the participants will be on improvement and effort. I am not aiming to produce a class as that of Raghu Rai’s (acclaimed photojournalist),” he smiles.
    And the theme for this year, Water, is right up his alley. “My relationship with water does not end with the tsunami. I’ve documented desertification on the fringes of China’s Gobi Desert, where sand dunes are bearing down on agricultural land and have encroached the Yellow River,” reveals the 56-year-old, who has been living in Japan for 20 years now.
    Having mostly clicked in black and white, using his Leica M camera, the American confesses that his new acquisition, a Sony RXl Rll, performs better. “Like my Leica, it has a 35 mm lens but made by Zeiss. It has 40 megapixel files and a silent shutter,” he shares, although he admits that an iPhone 6 “has a pretty serious camera, too”. Besides him, there is Senthil Kumaran who will be talking about documentary storytelling, and Umeed Mistry who will demonstrate underwater photography.

    August 28 to September 4. Register for `22,500. Details: pondy
    photo.com
    —Karan Pillai

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      Surya namaskar underwater, a cycle tour with cameras, or a juggling performance? You choose .

      Take the plunge
      If you haven’t attempted scuba diving yet, here’s your chance. Enrol for the workshop at Temple Adventures (the scuba diving school) next month, where you will be given basic training on the first day before heading out for a deep-sea dive on the second. Open to 10-year-olds and above. Register for Rs 10,500 per head (including underwater photos). September 10-11. Details: 9874793999

      Be the change
      The Choosing Change workshop by Auroville Green Practices next year is the perfect opportunity for you to learn how to contribute meaningfully to society. Meet international residents of Auroville and observe how to conduct community work projects like afforestation and social development. To be held next March. Registrations currently on at Rs 18,000 per head. Details: 0413 2622571

      Peace, underwater
      If scuba diving is not your thing, why not try aqua yoga? At the two-day workshop at iTurtle Yoga studio, learn the various steps involved and its benefits (from stress relief and weight reduction to posture alignment). Amrutha Anand, founder of iTurtle, will lead the class and she will also demonstrate how to do the surya namaskar underwater. September 3. Rs 5,000 per head. Details: 8438982305

      Get candid
      At this year’s edition of PondyPhoto, join participants of the Special Wake Up Pondy Tour. Organised by the Sita Cultural Centre and Pondy Cycle Tour, take memorable photos on your morning ride even as you listen to Manisha Ray (of SCC) and Gopinath Ram (Pondy-based photographer) share insights about the town. Tomorrow, 7.30 am onwards. Rs 1,200 per head.  Details: pondicherry-arts.com

      Folk moves
      Onam may be in the second week of September, but DakshinaChitra is bringing in the festivities a week earlier. Head to the centre and watch a tribal dance performance by the Wayanad Nattukootam Nattarivu Padana Kendram. August 31 to September 4,
      from 11.30 am onwards.
      Details: dakshinachitra.net

      Balancing act
      Pick up juggling moves from French
      circus artiste and aerial dancer, Romain Timmers, who will be showcasing his skills in a workshop at the second anniversary celebrations of La Casita. Besides this,
      there is also a Latin dance workshop by Kash, Zumba sessions, potluck, a lucky draw and much more. Sunday, from 1 pm onwards. Details: 7639405194

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        Salt Studio joins hands with The Farm for a unique outdoor exercise experience.

        EXERCISE your sinews at the lush locales of a farm, tending to vegetable gardens and animals­—as Salt Studio brings you their new fitness programme, Farm Fit. In collaboration with The Farm, the session (first-of-its-kind by the two-month-old fitness studio), is open to adults and children above the age of six. Expect fun-filled activities at this 70-acre space on the OMR, which will include milking cows, feeding buffaloes, cutting and carrying firewood, drawing water from the old-school pulley well and bathing horses.
        “We are trying to integrate exercise regimen into daily activities, to make staying fit easier and a lot more fun. Participants will also be ploughing the land and planting saplings,” informs Murugappan Shanmugam, founder and head coach at Salt Studios, adding that all farm work will be supervised and assistance of any sort will be made available along with pointers about the correlation of these chores to fitness. “Each activity requires a particular technique. Some activities will get you to squat completely while others will need good posture and strength. So we are trying to integrate exercises that promote weight loss and general fitness into these tasks,” says the city-based 38-year-old. Also be prepared to participate in a variety of games like kho-kho and identifying plant species, amid all the farm work. The workout sessions will be followed by a light lunch, which will include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, along with a few desserts. What’s  more? Children will also get a chance to make their own pizzas.
        Tomorrow at The Farm. Rs 1,000 for adults and Rs 800 for children (including lunch).
        Details: 9843285808

        — Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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          Urban music outfit, Bombay Bassment, on their new album, upcoming South Indian tour and more.

          This award-winning Mumbai-based act has been travelling the world like funky missionaries. Spreading the love of hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass and reggae, their deeds are nothing short of visionary. From finding themselves on a line-up with names like Jamaican reggae legend Burning Spear at the Kaloo Bang festival (on Reunion Island) to performing their “versatile, happy and funky” tunes at this year’s Glastonbury festival in the UK, the globetrotting quartet is on fire.

          On track
          “Our two-month-old second album, Bombay Bassment X Func VIP, is the electronic avatar of our 2014 debut eponymous full-length release. It is a variation in production (VIP) crafted by Shaa’ir + Func guitarist, Randolph Correia aka Func, who is a close friend,” begins frontman Bob Omulo aka MC Bobkat. While their core dancehall/reggae sound is best heard live (on tracks like Show me what you got), the new album gives their tunes a more club-friendly and upbeat spin. The MC also reveals that the crew—comprising DJ Major C, bassist Ruell Barretto and drummer Levin Mendes—will also be performing close to 12 tracks during their 90-minute set on this three-city tour, including some unreleased tunes like Put em up.

          Gig diary
          Since all four of the band members hail from various musical backgrounds (namely punk, alternative rock and hip-hop), it is hard to pigeonhole their tunes. But the artistes believe the change in the album’s musical vibe will help them reach a wider audience, as it makes their eclectic record more accessible to those who’ve never been exposed to high-energy music. “Kochi, Pondicherry and Kovalam are all about beaches and palm trees. The vibe of our music seems to be almost tailor-crafted for such pristine locations. We were destined to make our new album’s debut here,” concludes the veteran rapper, who hails from Kenya.
          Free entry. On Sunday,
          at the Covelong Point Surf, Music & Yoga Festival. From 7 pm. Details: covelongpoint.com

          — Anoop Menon

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            The last time we interviewed Ali Fazal, the Furious 7 star had admitted to a second Hollywood project in the pipeline, but had kept mum on the details. However, now with the film in its pre-production stage, he talks to us about director Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul (working title), which will see him with Academy award-winning actress, Dame Judi Dench, in the titular roles. With Fukrey 2 also on the cards, the Mumbai-based actor is happy with his packed schedule and will be seen by the end of the year in Prakash Raj’s Hindi directorial debut, Tadka.

            With the queen
            Fazal, who was in the country to promote his last outing, the romantic comedy Happy Bhaag Jayegi (which released last week),  has now returned to London for his “dream role”.  He tells us that at his first interaction with the 81-year-old Dench, he touched her feet before he began the conversation. “We met, we chilled, we spoke a lot about India, the script, about everything… she is very sweet and she is very fond of India,” he shares. Dench will be essaying the role of Queen Victoria for the second time on the big screen (the first was in the Oscar-nominated role in Mrs Brown).

            Director’s code
            Fazal is particularly excited about working with Frears, who he feels is one of the finest directors in the industry. On what he loves the most about the High Fidelity director, he quips, “He has a brilliant style of attracting beautiful and very politically and historically important subjects and finding a flip side or finding humour in them.”

            Role call
            The film, which is based on author Shrabani Basu’s 2010 novel, Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, tells the story of Abdul Karim (Fazal), an attendant to Queen Victoria (Dench), and the unlikely bond they shared. Karim went on to become the Empress’ munshi (teacher) and her confidante, with their growing alliance in constant scrutiny by her household. The 29-year-old actor, who says that he is not taking Basu’s book as a reference, had sent in a screen test two-and-a-half-months back but didn’t expect to land the role. “It was very last minute and everyone had said it’s over and they have stopped casting in India,” he says. But he finally heard back from them and what followed were readings with the director and casting directors, and some back-and -forth from London as “they just wanted to be very sure.”
            Meanwhile, talking about Fukrey 2, he says, “The principal cast remains the same. There are interesting entries that will be seen this time. The stakes are up, way higher than the first one, so it’s going to be fun.”

            Fukrey 2 and Victoria and Abdul are slated for a 2017 release.

            — Simar Bhasin

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              Kevin Spacey on his role in Nine Lives, meow-crawling and sleeping in alleys.

              While American actor, producer, singer and comedian Kevin Spacey’s new bromance with rapper Drake has drawn attention, we catch up with the House of Cards actor as he gets back on the big screen with Nine Lives. The Oscar-winner plays workaholic billionaire Tom Brand who, thanks to a freak accident, gets trapped in a feline’s body and has one week to make amends with his family or risk staying forever as Mr Fuzzypants, the cat. Here, the 57-year-old is delightfully funny as he talks about playing a comic character and his co-stars.

              Your take on doing a comic role.
              People often think of me in a darker, more evil kind of part. But it’s a great joy for me to be able to come to work every day and do something that’s really funny, really fast and very clever.

              How important is this role for you?
              Sure, I could probably have cut a sweeter deal if I’d been willing to play a little hardball, but I couldn’t risk losing the role. I wasn’t going to let Bill Murray or Eric Roberts steal another talking cat gig out from under me!

              What did you work on for your role as Mr Fuzzypants?
              I worked on meow-crawling around the streets of New York and Toronto. I would see what meows would get under people’s skin.

              How was it working with Sonnenfeld?
              Barry Sonnenfeld has done some of the great films of all time, no doubt about it. So when he came on to this project, I was enormously excited.

              Did you share a good rapport with Christopher Walken and Jennifer Garner?
              Walken didn’t bother to learn any of his lines. He said he left his script at a 24-hour TGI Friday’s. But Garner, she was a real pro. I could throw anything at her—nuzzle her leg, climb on to her shoulder, bat her lunch tray off the table. She’d never blow a take.

              How do you choose and prepare for roles?
              With every job, you should have something to lose, something to gain, and something to learn. It’s a bit like sports; it’s a different game every time you get on the court.

              Any challenges while shooting
              for Nine Lives?
              The hardest part, I think, was sleeping in the alley behind the studio. Lotta stray cats in heat this time of year.

              Is there a possibility of Nine Lives 2?
              Let’s get Nine Lives 2 into production. We can call it Eight Lives.

              Nine Lives hits theatres today

              — Team Indulge

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                Corporate get-togethers get a reboot with experience meetings.

                Have you heard of boxing bouts before a business meeting?  Radisson Blu Hotel GRT’s EXP (short for experience) sessions do exactly that. Besides a warm-up boxing session, corporate meetings here are also interspersed with games, painting on canvases, and a live cooking station at lunch where chefs teach you techniques of folding and making homemade pasta and sushi. There is even an express spa experience—all directed towards keeping your mind and body energised and active for your work schedule. Speaking about the concept, which was officially launched last week, senior general manager, Sasikumar U, says it is the first of its kind in the country.
                “Today the world is all about people who want everything in short forms. So we coined this word (EXP). There are a lot of surprise elements in this concept,” he says. Ideally designed as a day-long programme, and for up to 60 participants, expect five boxing instructors teaching six basic moves with background music and a break out room where you can play games such as golf and throwball, in addition to an Oscar Wilde-themed game using masks. The idea is to make sure the participants use “both the left and the right side of the brain” and come out of the whole experience “refreshed and rejuvenated”.

                Rs 2,750 plus taxes (for a day, including the activities, lunch and refreshments) at Radisson Blu Hotel GRT (near airport).
                Details:  22310101

                —Simar Bhasin

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                  Spooks aplenty
                  Lovers of horror have a treat awaiting them, as Bayam Oru
                  Payanam is out. Calling it a film true to its genre, debutant director Mani Sharma says, “Apart from the fear factor, which will run throughout the film, the plot has a strong emotional connect, too.” Dr Bharath Reddy, who was earlier seen in supporting roles, gets his first lead act, sharing screen space with the likes of Vishakha Singh and Meenakshi Dixit. Get ready for a spine-tingling experience.

                  Counting down
                  Ask director Raghavendra Prasad about his film 54321’s intriguing title, and the former assistant to Karthik Subburaj says, “It relates to five characters, four lifestyles, three murders, two hours and one story of revenge. There will be quite a few countdowns, too.” Touching on OCD (Obsessive Compulsory Disorder), the film, which is releasing today, could well break stereotypes and make for an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

                  The big return
                  Returning to the Tamil screen after a hiatus, Manoj K Jayan, will be seen reprising his role from the Malayalam original, Thattathin Marayathu, in its Tamil remake, Meendum Oru Kadhal Kathai, which is set to hit theatres today. “It (in the Malayalam film) was a supporting role and had earned me applause. The Thiruvananthapuram slang the character adopted was the highlight,” he says. “The Tamil version has no particular slang though. Apart from minor changes to suit nativity, the essence of the original version has been retained,” adds the actor.

                  Malini Mannath

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                    Stage pick
                    A 90-minute comedy, The Scent of a Man, by director Ashvin Gidwani, revolves around the lives of two married couples—an advertising executive and his slightly neurotic wife and the other an ambitious marketer and her husband who is a teacher. With theatre artistes like Suchitra Pillai and Deven Khote in the cast, make sure you don’t miss this laugh riot on Saturday. At The Westin. Entry by invite only. Details: 66333777

                    Iranian tales
                    Starting with Track 143, an Iranian Film Festival is being organised by ICAF, in association with the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran, beginning on Monday. Directed by Narges Abyar, Track 143 is an adaptation of her novel titled The Third Eye.  With women’s role in the Iran-Iraq war as its focal point, the movie tells the story of a woman waiting for her missing son who went off to war. August 29-31. At Alliance Française. Details: 28279803

                    A time for fun
                    Take your little ones to The Little Theatre for Toddler Theatre workshops conducted by Aysha Rau. For two to four-year-olds, don’t miss the chance to let your children explore their creativity. On Tuesdays and Fridays, between 4 and 5.30 pm. Available on monthly registration of `4,000.
                    Details: 9677125738

                    New kids on the block
                    Clinton Cerejo and Mumbai-based band, Sanam, have collaborated to produce Inquilab Mera Khwab—the first song in a series of collaborations between rising young musicians and mainstream Bollywood composers and singers. Called Jammin, this new initiative will release a new track every Friday, over 10 weeks, which will culminate in a collaboration between AR Rahman and the young musicians. Details: youtube.com

                    Curtain call
                    The first South Asian Music Residency bringing together German and South Asian musical styles is drawing to a close, with the finale concert at the Goethe-Institut Auditorium tomorrow. Join 15 musicians—led by Sebastian Gramms, a German double bass player, cellist and composer—as they bring down the curtains on the two-week-long musical experiment. Free entry. Details: 28331314

                    Doll up
                    To promote art among children, Polish
                    project, the Common Room, and Forum Art Gallery are organising the Common City –  India Doll Workshop tomorrow. Open to the 10-15 age group, it will see children
                    designing garments for dolls using textiles from the Common Room, which will then go on to be part of a travelling exhibition. Take home a polaroid picture with your work and a patch of the garment as a souvenir. Details: 42115596

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                      Expect to see Donald Trump imitations and Olympic references in this adaptation of an Arabian Nights favourite.

                      If music composer Karthik Raja directed a Tamil version of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp as Pattanathil Bhootham last September, it is the turn of Vijay Victor, choreographer, singer and actor, to do an encore of his 2013 adaptation of the same story, but with an amaranthine aura this time around.

                      Of carpets and lamps
                      Aladdin – A musical journey, presented by city-based Victor (28) and Swathi Sadhwani’s Studio 360, along with Record Production, promises to be a kaleidoscope of dance, music, magic and humour. It may be a retelling of an ancient tale, but the makers are keen on keeping the content contemporary. “Expect to see the genie imitate Donald Trump or share his thoughts on the Olympics in this production,” says Sadhwani (28), who has also choreographed the production along with Victor. Theatre actor, voice-over artist and RJ, Sandeep John, who plays Genie, calls it the most exciting thing he has done in his eight-year stint in theatre. He admits “it is impossible to be Robin Williams while playing the genie”, in an obvious reference to the 1992 animated feature, but they’ve “kept it fun and appealing.” “We’ve tried so much to break the fourth wall lot, that sometimes it feels like a standup show,” says the 33-year-old, adding that the role provides scope for a good deal of improv. Besides John, the production features some of the popular names in Chennai theatre, including Vaishwath Shanker (Aladdin), dentist-cum-actor Yohan Chako (Jafar) and singer Sangita Santosham (Jasmine). The production is based on a script by Sophia Ashraf, with V Balakrishnan of Theatre Nisha serving as acting consultant.

                      Fun for all

                      The two-and-a-half-hour production is for children as much as it is for their parents, explains Victor. “When it premiered in Chennai three years ago, we even had 80-year-olds in the audience,” he says, speaking of its appeal. Following its premiere, the earlier show—produced by composer Karthikraja—travelled to Bengaluru. Having completed a two-year course on Broadway jazz from New York’s Peridance Capezio Centre, Victor says the production will feature a lot of jazz, with some Viennese waltz, rhumba and hip-hop thrown in. There are about five dance pieces in all, he shares, making special mention of a dreamy ballad, The Cliché Song, for its choreography.

                      On September 4, at 7 pm, at Sir Mutha Hall. Rs 500-Rs 2,000. Details: eventjini.com

                      —Sharadha Narayanan

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