With Swiss Made Adventures’ latest season exploring the Alps, we speak with a movie buff and an adventure junkie
While hopeless romantics were engrossed with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s characters in the “palat… palat” scene, in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), travel buffs were distracted by the magnificent view of the Saanen bridge and the picturesque mountains of Switzerland. Whatever be your interest in the Alps, the sixth season of Swiss Made Adventures promises to satisfy in its new avatar, which showcases three sections—actor Meiyang Chang going on a Bollywood trail, actress Sumona Chakravarti and adventure junkie Neha Dixit trying their hands at adventure sports, and Masterchef Kunal Kapur trying out the best of wines and cheeses the country has to offer. From skydiving at the foothills of the Matterhorn mountain (illustrated in the Toblerone chocolate logo) to counting wild horses at Gstaad village and relishing butter-stuffed perch caught from Lake Geneva, get tips from the hosts for your
next Swiss getaway.
With 48 mountains and over 7,000 lakes, there is no dearth of adventure here. “The Matterhorn mountains, which forms the border between Switzerland and Italy, is the perfect place to take a leap for a sky diving adventure. And James Bond fans can recreate the opening scene of the Golden Eye, by bungee jumping 720 feet from the Verzasca Dam in Ticino (`17,500),” says the explorer. For adrenaline junkies, there is jet skiing, wake boarding and hand gliding, where you take off from the Rothorn peak and land on the green meadows of Zermatt (`15,100). “Paragliding is available in India, but not hand gliding. So it is a great opportunity for Indian adventurers to try their hand at the sport,” adds Dixit, who also recommends that the best way to unwind after all the exertions is by sitting beside the serene Lake Geneva, reading a book and trying the buttered perch caught fresh from the lake and served at the many budget eateries surrounding it.
How better to enjoy Switzerland than by following the trails of the man who introduced the picturesque country to us, Yash Chopra. Television star and movie buff, Meiyang Chang closely follows the filmmaker’s iconic locations. “Do you want to see how the world looks from above? That is Switzerland visualised for you,” begins Chang, who visited Gstaad village, where the song Zara sa jhoom loon main was filmed, stopped by St Mauritius Church, where Raj (Khan) and Simran (Kajol) prayed in DDLJ, and took a horse carriage ride in Interlaken, where, often, wild horses will run beside you (`2,750 onwards). “For a real ‘filmi’ experience, check into the Yash Chopra Suite, a cinema-themed suite dedicated to the filmmaker at the Victoria- Jungrfrau Grand Hotel (from `85,000 per night). For outdoor activities, take your pick from skiing to snowboarding and Nordic walking. I chose the dog sled ride, where five pairs of huskies pull your sled through the snow-capped mountains (`10,975 onwards),” adds Chang.
An iconic 1930s room gets an update at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan, with a menu reimagined by a chef from Kerala
NORMALITY is overrated, you say. Champagne at the Tata Presidential Suite, with a view of Central Park from 39 floors up, can do that to you. The bedrooms here go on forever, with gold and silver interiors, decorated with Murano glass and a hand laid Turkish marble floor. A perfect setting for The Pierre’s frequent residents, who range from diplomats to Hollywood, Bollywood and British royalty. Some of them, I learn, book the entire 39th floor at about $30,000 per night. But these are not the only rooms that make you want to play the eccentric diva. For, the hotel frequented by Jacqueline Onassis and Yves St Laurent back in the day, and more recently, Freida Pinto to Rachel McAdams and other Met Ball guests, has an ornate gem of a gathering space, the Rotunda. On the ground floor, this room has been getting its share of well-heeled instagrammers, influencers and Bergdorf Goodman regulars since its relaunch in July. For 86 years, since when The Pierre opened for business, it has played many roles, serving formal afternoon tea, hosting debutante balls and a supper club. Its current avatar sees smart, rosy lighting to showcase the dramatic Renaissance-mural painted by Edward Melcarth back in 1967 and chartreuse velvet banquettes. This is courtesy architect Daniel Romualdez. With the hotel’s executive chef Ashfer Biju and dessert genius, Chef Michael Mignano designing a special menu at the Rotunda, you have good reason to take a seat and people-watch. Look out for Jackie O, who has been cleverly included in the mural. Or celebrities in the flesh, like Priyanka Chopra, Kajol or even Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus at Tata Sons Ltd. But whatever you do, don’t forget to sample the créme brulee, a house favourite, with bits of chocolate in the créme.
What Ashfer says
Kerala-born executive chef Ashfer Biju is a celebrity of sorts at the hotel, what with his TV appearances and the James Beard dinner he hosted back in April. With stints at the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad under his belt, Chef Ashfer now takes inspiration from The Pierre’s archives and the New York Public Library for the menu at his French-American restaurant, Perrine. The original recipes are reimagined in today’s context and guests give his summer dish of ‘‘Slow cooked Halibut with local chard & caper lemon sauce’’ a thumbs up. There is also a Coq au Vin from the 1930s’ opening menu. He weighs in on Indian food in NYC:
Malabar tasting: If I were to single out two food memories, it will be my mom’s cooking and growing up around an abundance of fresh fish in Kerala. One dish that converges both is the Malabar Prawn Curry, which is served at The Pierre. I teach it to my chefs from varied ethnicities and backgrounds in New York, and it is my tribute to my mom.
Serving Indian in NYC: Indian food, for many years, had the stigma of being the cheap, easy, buffet or take out alternative. What we need is a three-pronged attack – where the finesse of cuisine is showcased by high-end fine dining concepts such as Indian Accent or Junoon; new modern concepts must open up to introduce the comfort food side of Indian cuisine, like Babu Ji and Paowalla; and existing restaurants must get real in what they serve. We cannot compromise on authenticity. Korean food has done it very cleverly in NYC and there is no reason why Indian food cannot do it!
When old meets new: From the time when the legendary Chef Escoffier set up the Pierre kitchen in 1930, it has been a trendsetter in cuisine. The Pierre housed one of the first (or probably the first ever) Indian fine dining restaurants in America, The Pierre Grill, which served the best kebabs one could get in this part of the world in the 1950s. We have now come full circle with our current menu.
Finding Comfort: After work, we go for burgers at DBGB (Chef Daniel Boulud’s casual restaurant) or some rustic Italian address in the west side of Manhattan. With family, we enjoy one of the many seafood restaurants in North Fork, Long Island, or frequent Flushing Chinatown in Queens for dim sum.
The writer was invited by The Pierre.
With two music festivals, a photo exhibition and a ceramic workshop, say hello to your creative side
There are many aspects of Hindu festivals that we are not familiar with. City-based award-winning French photographer, Yannick Cormier, hopes to throw some light on them with his exhibition, Dravidian Catharsis, at Kalinka Art Gallery. It will feature around 45 black-and-white photos
of traditional Hindu festival rituals.
Till October 9. The show is on daily,
except Mondays. Details: 2336976
Working with ceramic need not be daunting. Sign up for the upcoming workshop at DakshinaChitra, by in-house ceramist S Potrarasan, and learn how to make simple murals and name boards. Register for `4,000 per head (inclusive of materials, refreshments and transport). On October 8, 9 and 15, from 10.30 am to
5 pm. Details: 9840672154
Auroville is known for using eco-friendly initiatives in their architecture. Learn more about the same in an upcoming five-day workshop, where experts will show you how they incorporate sustainable practices like rainwater harvesting into their projects. `16,500. October 12-16. Details: agpworkshops.com
Pondicherry is turning out to be the go-to destination for EDM fans. The Bacardi NH7 Weekender is coming to rock the town and the line-up looks exciting, with names like Delhi-based Nucleya, The Raghu Dixit Project, Dualist Inquiry, city-based Skrat and Sapta. On October 15, from 5-10 pm. Tickets at `500 per head (cover charge
on food) on insider.in
Into the wild
Sign up for a trip with Pondicherry-based tour organisers, Beyond Wild, and get an opportunity to get up close and personal with the wildlife on Borneo. On the island, with one of the world’s oldest rainforests, you can spot orangutans, white-bearded gibbons, ferret badgers and more. Top locations on the itinerary include Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Sandakan War memorial. October 26 to November 2. Register for $1,710 (over `1,13,500). Details: 9087061325
Get ready to amp up your weekend with Dutch DJ Edward Maya, as the record-breaking producer comes to Pondicherry for the first edition of the Electro Storm festival. He will be accompanied by other well-known names like Ma Faiza from Pune, Miki Love from Romania, Russian DJ Sashanti, DJ Ivan from Bengaluru, and more. At the Ashok Beach Resort. Today and tomorrow, from 7 pm. Tickets from `1,250 on in.bookmyshow.com
VH1 Supersonic comes to Pondicherry, headlining Sick Individuals and other popular artistes
COME October 15 and the Confluence Banquets and Resorts in Mahabalipuram will reverberate with one of the world’s most popular EDM acts at the moment, Sick Individuals. The duo will be performing at VH1 Supersonic’s first-ever edition here, which is being organised by Boombox Entertainment, in association with Nikhil Chinappa’s Submerge Music. “They gave us a list of eight different artistes, from which we chose Sick Individuals owing to their immense popularity and also availability,” says Peter Cunnigham, director of Boombox.
The Dutch duo—consisting of Joep Smeele (Jim) and Rinze Hofstee (Ray)—came together in 2010. “They are one of the biggest commercial acts in the world right now. They are also among the top three progressive house acts on the music portal, Beatport, besides having four no 1 singles to their name,” says Cunnigham. The Dutch duo will be performing their newest songs on a specially-designed 3D stage (a first for Boombox in Pondicherry), we learn, using specially-procured equipment like Pioneer’s CDJ-2000NXS player and the DJM-900NXS mixer. Accompanying them will be a number of artistes like Rohit Barker, Answer, Get Massive, Siddharth Raheja, Ashish Nagpal, Anto and Gritty Kid, who will ensure that the expected crowd of around `2,500 stay upbeat.
October 15, from 6 pm onwards.
`1,000 per head on chennayil.com.
#Dilliwaala6 is getting rave reviews for its authentic North Indian vegetarian fare
AS I walk down St Louis Street and turn right towards Sri Aurobindo Ashram, I discover a new signage, #Dilliwaala6, and I am immediately curious. Soon Surabhi and Saurabh Dabas welcome me into a 180-year-old yellow-and-white French villa with bougainvillea along the walls, which is now a 90-seater restaurant. Both engineers from Delhi, Saurabh has been in Pondicherry for 30 years and Surabhi moved here last year after their wedding. “We believe food and travelling go hand-in-hand and trying out new cuisines have become a passion. This, coupled with the dearth of authentic North Indian restaurants here, led us to #Dilliwaala6,” says Surabhi. “Old Delhi is often referred to as Dilli 6, and our address is also 6, Rue De La Marine. Hence the name,” chimes in Saurabh, pleased with the play on numbers.
The authenticity of the heritage villa has been retained, though the couple have filled it with everything ‘Dilli’. A hand-painted Chetak scooter reminds me of old Delhi, while the walls have been left untouched to echo the story of the villa. While debating the best table in the house, I discover that Surabhi loves the courtyard at the back (with a well and pergolas), and Saurabh prefers the quaint room between two other courtyards, which offers a great view of the place.
As I take a seat and browse the menu, I am surprised by how well-priced it is. “Our target audience are families and college students. In the mornings, people can come in for our sandwiches, especially the Bombay masala, and the aloo pooris and stuffed tandoori parathas. For lunch and dinner, there are thalis, chaats and more,” says Saurabh. We tuck into a delicious paneer tikka naan pizza with a whole-wheat base, followed by a tasty katori chaat, made with a home made potato stick basket filled with chutneys and sweet curd. Next, some paani puris help to clear the palate, before we dig into peanut aloo tikkis and a wonderfully tender char-grilled paneer tikka. We try some spicy chole with paneer-stuffed kulchas for the main course and end with a satisfying shahi tukda (toast with cream). Keeping the season in mind, I learnt that their Navratri thali and chaats cater to those who are fasting, while there will be specials introduced every month and a new menu for Diwali this month.
Meal for two at Rs 500. Details: 0413 4201223
Taking forward Saira Banu’s legacy, Sayyeshaa makes her Bollywood debut
Legendary actors Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu’s grandniece is the new star kid on the block. Sayyeshaa—Shaheen Banu and Sumeet Saigal’s daughter—is set to make her Bollywood debut with Ajay Devgn’s second directorial, Shivaay (after U, Me aur Hum). “I went to meet Ajay about two years ago and he told me about this film he was directing. So I auditioned and got the part. I think it is a good choice because it is such a big film and he is directing it,” gushes the 19-year-old, whose first outing was the Telugu film Akhil, which was a box office dud. The Mumbai-based actress tells us how Devgn is an effortless actor and a hands-on director who operates one of the cameras while shooting.
Bagging a Hindi film was not a breeze for Sayyeshaa, but she agrees that having a ‘filmi family’ has its benefits. “When you come from a filmi family, you know a lot about the industry. The family knows people in the industry, too. But I don’t think that makes getting a film easy,” shares the Ecole Mondiale World School graduate. Sayyeshaa adds that she has always been very close to Kumar and Banu. “We have a close-knit family. They have always advised me to be perseverant,” says the actress, picking Saira Banu’s Purab Aur Pashchim (1970) and Padosan (1968) as her favourite films and citing the ‘Ae bhai’ scene from Kumar’s film, Mashaal (1984), as her favourite.
The actress, who is trained in Latin-American dance forms and whose dream role is to play a dancer in a movie, will soon be seen making her Tamil debut opposite actor Jayam Ravi, in an AL Vijay film. “I have been very lucky with all my films. I was very keen to do the Tamil movie because I have a very prominent role in it. There is a lot of variation in the character, which gives me scope to perform,” shares Sayyeshaa, who wishes to work with directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rajkumar Hirani. And while she has other projects in the pipeline, she wants to keep them under wraps for the moment.
Mirzya’s make-up designer takes us behind the most dramatic onscreen makeovers
After having worked on the make-up design of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Zero Dark Thirty and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, artist Virginia Holmes’ next outing is the visually-stunning (if the trailers are anything to go by) Mirzya. Speaking about her experience on the sets, Holmes, who is also co-owner of India-based make-up company Fat Mu, admits that it was a long process. “The make-up, costume and hair teams met in 2014 to begin to build the worlds you will see on screen. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra actually said that there are three worlds to create and the characters will then emerge automatically,” she says, adding that for actor Harshvardhan Kapoor’s contemporary look the brief was to make him look like an anti-hero and for Mirza, his eye colour was changed, his beard grown longer and his skin tanned. Here, Holmes, who has just finished a film by Tabrez Noorani, lists her pick of the most drastic transformations on screen:
The Exorcist (1973)
Game-changer Dick Smith was one of the early pioneers of combining make-up with on-set “practical” special effects. In The Exorcist, he made the welts swell up on the little girl’s stomach, made her head spin around and, of course, there were the iconic vomiting scenes.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Rick Baker worked with director John Landis on this black humour horror film. Baker used and created techniques that had never been used before. The whole film had comic characters who were victims of werewolf attacks, who came back from the dead. The make-up/prosthetics were just superb.
Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982)
This was a pioneering video in so many ways. From a make-up point of view, designer and SFX guru Baker transformed MJ into a werewolf—so different and, for its day, technologically superb. The SFX and prosthetics were cutting edge and it pushed forward the art. It made it famous.
With Dustin Hoffman playing a male actor who transforms himself into a woman in order to get work, the transformation was superb, fun and explored the power of make-up for its psychological and physical impact.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy(2001-3)
Each set of characters showed so much imagination and superb technical ability. From the Elves to the Hobbits and the Dwarves, the detailing involved was breathtaking.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I love Charlize Theron’s character’s look. Smearing the engine oil on herself during the scene and looking warrior-like was just incredible.
Mirzya releases today.
The Jurassic World star on facing ethnic stereotypes and chasing action roles
While actor Brian Tee has made it clear that his dream role is Marvel’s newly-acquired character, Namor, we have the martial arts expert in the spotlight as his blockbuster, Jurassic World, premieres on Indian TV. Talking to us in the midst of his shoot schedule for the NBC show, Chicago Med, the new father (of a 13-month-old baby) tells us that when he is not shooting, he is with his family because, “being a dad is the best thing that’s happened to me”.
An avowed comic fan, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TNMT): Out of the Shadows actor shares that, “As a kid, I was a huge fan of the X-Men and the Jurassic Park series. When I got to be a part of these franchises over the last few years, I felt like my whole life has somehow been about all my childhood dreams coming true.” With a penchant for negative characters—think Norubi Mori, Mariko’s corrupt fiancé in The Wolverine, and Shredder, the antagonist in TNMT—the 39-year-old calls himself a ‘spontaneous actor’ and says, “I love playing the bad guy. There’s so much to it.” Tee essays the role of Hamada, the leader of the security outfit on Isla Nubla in Jurassic World, and agrees that action-drama is his favourite genre. “I was a jock growing up and I loved sports. I had a huge imagination. When you put those two together, it’s incredible and that’s what I’ve tried to do in the films I pick.”
With a Japanese-Korean heritage and 16 years in the industry, Tee is no stranger to typecasting. “Despite my Asian roots, I’ve grown up in America, so the initial struggle was always to tell people that I am American,” says the Chicago-based actor. Conceding that things have changed, he adds, “I am doing Chicago Med now and I am just a doctor. Not Asian or anything else.”
The actor, who has worked with Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan in Jurassic World, laments the fact that he has not watched an Indian film. “I feel like I am missing out on a whole new side of filmmaking that’s making waves around the world,” he rues. Tee points out that Khan’s Hollywood presence (he will be seen in Inferno next) is proof enough of changing perspectives. “You also have Priyanka Chopra, a young lady who’s doing such a good job on Quantico. The industry is starting to be welcoming to talent from other quarters and that’s a great change,” he concludes.
Jurassic World premieres on Sony Pix on October 16
at 1 pm and 9 pm.
Our pick of top directors who are making their move beyond the box office, with promising TV shows
WITH director Martin Scorsese making Vinyl, the drama series about the American music industry, and the Coen brothers readapting their movie, Fargo, for television—the shift from the silver screen to the small is now a real trend. Here is a look at some of the other A-list directors who are following suit.
The man behind the Michael Fassbender-starrer Shame
(2011) and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) is
working on a six-part BBC drama series (yet to be titled).
The plot, which follows a West Indian community living in London, spans three decades, starting from the infamous Rivers of Blood speech by politician Enoch Powell.
The show is slated to release next spring.
Everyone knows Apatow for his brand of comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Trainwreck (2015). Now the American director is showcasing his comic timing on TV with Crashing, releasing next year. It stars Pete Holmes in a semi-autobiographical role as a comedian whose wife has left him.
With a resume that boasts blockbusters like Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, it’s safe to say that whatever Jean-Marc Vallee does, works. He is directing the upcoming American comedy, Big Little Lies, with a star-studded cast featuring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Alexander Skarsgård. To hit your homes on HBO next February.
David Gordon Green
After last year’s Our Brand Is Crisis (2015), where Sandra Bullock played a political consultant, this 41-year-old filmmaker is now taking over the American comedy scene
with his latest TV show, Vice Principals, starring Danny
McBride and Walton Goggins. About an unpopular vice principal of an American high school and his ambitions,
the show premiered this July.
Guillermo del Toro
The Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim director is adapting an animated TV series, Trollhunters, from his own book of the same name. To be aired on Netflix later this month, it’s about a group of friends trying to solve a mystery in their locality. Actors like Anton Yelchin and Kelsey Grammer have lent their voices.
He is the name
behind dramas like The Hours (2002) and The Reader (2008). After a prolific career in theatre and movies, the British filmmaker is directing a TV series, The Crown—about the life of Queen Elizabeth II. The show, slated for release in November on Netflix, stars Claire Foy as the Queen and Matt Smith as Prince Philip.
One for the masses
The close-to-reality scripts he chooses and his natural take on characters have always lent his films a realistic feel. Now Vijay Sethupathy is all set to push the frontier and foray into a more commercially-viable scenario. Rekka (a weekend release) has him essaying the hero in a more formulaic script. The actor, explaining the deviation, has said that he is testing waters to reach out to a mass audience. Whether this move works to his advantage,
one has to wait and watch.
Vikram’s makeover as a female nurse in Iru Mugan had sprung a surprise because it wasn’t a much publicised one, pre-release.
But Sivakarthikeyan’s avatar as a nurse in Remo, a
romantic-comedy (releasing today), has been the focal point of
the film’s publicity. One could barely recognise the comely woman with the coy look on the poster as the vibrant hero. His fans
will definitely get to see a different side of him.
Lovers of horror-comedies have a treat awaiting them this weekend. Devi, directed by Vijay, has Tamannaah playing a ghost, with Prabhu Deva and Sonu Sood sharing frames. While the trio reprise their roles in all versions of the trilingual (Abhinetri in Telugu and Tutak Tutak Tutiya in Hindi), the supporting cast
varies in each. Incidentally, it marks the return of Prabhu Deva
as an actor to the Tamil screen, after a decade.
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