Monthly Archives: February 2017
James Spader on Raymond “Red” Reddington, and why he personally avoids watching TV
IN ITs fourth season, crime thriller series The Blacklist finds James Spader’s lead character of Raymond “Red” Reddington in grimly contemplative moods, when he’s not sleuthing it with the FBI. Off the sets, meanwhile, Spader apparently can’t be bothered with watching television.
How has The Blacklist managed to keep cutting through all the noise?
James Spader: The show is an odd mix of things, not only in its content, but even in the people that populate and inhabit the show, and not just the characters, but the people who make the show.
The show’s a strange animal, and in a strange way, it’s unique in its conception and the way it’s made. We’ve got writers in Los Angeles, and we’re in New York, and we’re sort of a country apart We don’t even live our lives at the same hours of the day.
The show is populated by this strange combination of characters. It is an oddity, and therefore it stands alone. Tonally, the show is strange. At times, it’s startling and very intensive, and yet it can also be irreverent and in other times, calm and volatile.
The character Reddington that I play, he’s a weird strange mix of things and, I think that permeates the show in general.
Do you enjoy the character arc of Reddington?
JS: Reddington is deceiving a little bit, because it looks like he may be in control of things when, very often, he’s actually very calm and perfectly comfortable surrounded by chaos.
He’s really faced with the sort of collateral effect that his life has had, even though he has felt, for a long time, that he’s been responsible for himself, and has lived to a great degree a solitary life far away from people that he might have known at other times.
It’s become clear to him, the effect that his life has had on others, often to the detriment of other people’s lives. He’s sort of coming to terms during the last couple of years. He’s having to reckon with himself a little bit, and that’s always a very conflicted process, to say the least.
You mentioned that you don’t watch a lot of TV, and that don’t have a TV in your house. Interesting paradox, don’t you think?
JS: Yes, I still don’t have a TV in my house, but I’m moving fairly soon, so who knows? I spend an awful lot of time, a lot of hours out of the day and a lot of days out of the week and a lot of weeks out of the year, living within fictional television and fictional drama. Therefore, when I’m not working, I don’t tend to be drawn towards that. When I’m not at work, I don’t devote much of my time to television.
The Blacklist Season 4 airs on Star World & Star World HD at 9pm every Friday
— Team Indulge
Director: Sankalp Reddy
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Nassar, Tapsee India’s first underwater war film, this one is all about the sinking of the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi during the Indo-Pak war. While the visuals and special effects are below average, the story seems to be the only saving grace. What the film lacks, however, is a solid performance to bring it home, and a touch of finesse.
Director: Sai Bharath
Cast: Hrishikesh, Sanchita Shetty
A horror-comedy, this film is about the spooky events that take place in the bungalow of a rogue cop where a group of thieves take refuge. The first half is racy, with doses of comedy and horror. The plot later loses steam, but picks up momentum at the end. Vivekh peps things up with his one-liners. Hilarious as one of the thieves trapped in the bungalow, the actor is the show-stealer.
Sayani Gupta on finding her true calling, and her Bollywood journey so far
HER PORTRAYAL of Khanum, Kalki Koechlin’s fiery, blind girlfriend in Margarita With A Straw, made the Bollywood industry sit up and take notice of Sayani Gupta. Straying away from the mainstream, the 27-year-old went on to play sometimes small, but definitely significant roles, in films like Fan, Baar Baar Dekho, and more recently, Jolly LLB 2. Her next release is Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos, alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, where she plays a 14-year-old girl.
An outsider in the industry, Sayani was born and raised in Kolkata. A student of the arts (she’s a trained bharatanatyam dancer) she continued to participate in dance, drama, debates and music events when she moved to Delhi to pursue higher education. Realising her passion for art, she quit a cushy job in an infrastructure research firm to study cinema. Talking about what gave her the courage to pursue her true calling, she says, “When I quit, I had realised that earning a livelihood will not be a problem, but actually enjoying what you do, and being able to follow your calling, is what one should strive for. My calling was acting, and cinema. In fact, I remember I had a conversation with Naseerudin Shah once, where we both agreed that we could pay people to let us act!”
An education in films
On studying acting at the FTII, Pune, Sayani elaborates, “Going against family, making up my mind that I was ready to take on all these risks, then starting from scratch in a completely new industry without knowing a single person from it — it all seemed very blurry. But I knew that studying there was the only logical, legitimate way of stepping into Bollywood.” The actor tells us that her education there was more than just about acting and adds, “It’s a space that taught me cinema, filmmaking, exposed me to world cinema, formulated my views on politics, freedom to express and dissent.”
Smells like teen spirit
Currently, the actress is busy shooting for Jagga Jasoos. “I feel Dada (Basu) is a genius. He has a peculiarly fascinating way of working with actors. We don’t have the script and moreover, my character has changed drastically. I am playing a 14-year-old girl and I love Basu for casting me as a little girl in this film.” Working with Katrina and Ranbir too has been quite the experience. “Ranbir is my favourite actor, because his capabilities are boundless. Kat and I have done two films now. She has this straight-faced Brit humour, which is actually hilarious,” she shares.
Jagga Jasoos releases later this year.
James McAvoy plays 23 personalities in Split, and makes it all seem like a piece of cake
When James McAvoy first met Manoj Night Shyamalan for a script reading of Split, the first thing he asked was the name of the character he would be portraying.Shyamalan refused to reveal the name, and asked him to read the script, instead.
McAvoy admits to immediately being intrigued with the story’s many twists and turns. “I read the first 10 pages and thought, ‘Wow, what is this?’ Then I read the next 10 pages and thought, ‘What is that?’” he says, adding, “It felt like I was being continually confronted with something completely different. That’s the joy of what Night does so well. He keeps the audience on their toes trying to figure out what the film is — are we watching a thriller, a psychological drama, horror, sci-fi or something supernatural? This film is all of those genres.”
Shyamalan and McAvoy worked closely to ensure the actor’s performance remained singular, even as he transformed into each role with authenticity. McAvoy says, “Night is demanding and almost forensic in what he wants you to do. He has a specific idea of what he wants, yet he’s extremely collaborative and giving.”
Changing colours and characters, sometimes within the same shot, was particularly demanding. “You hope the audience will buy you as one character,” McAvoy explains.“Then you need them to buy you as this next persona and make that transition interesting without alienating viewers.”
The role presented the seasoned actor with an extraordinary opportunity. “I enjoyed playing each character, because as an actor you rarely get the chance to do something like this. It’s exciting to radically change what you’re thinking and who you are,”
Split releases today.
— Team Indulge
Catch two exciting French films (with English subtitles) and a documentary this week, organised by the Ciné Club of the Alliance Française of Madras at the Edouard Michelin auditorium, Nungambakkam. Details: 28279803
February 26, 5 pm
Director: Rudi Rosenberg
Le Nouveau (2015) explores the life of Benoit, a teenager, and the troubles he goes through at his new school. What happens when he meets Johanna, a Swedish girl, who befriends him?
21 Nuits Avec Pattie
February 26 , 7 pm
Director: Jean-Marie Larrieu, Arnaud Larrieu
When Caroline returns to her village for her mother’s funeral, she encounters the unpredictable Pattie, who spills some age-old secrets. Things get mysterious when Caroline’s mom’s body disappears.
Farewell My Indian Soldier
February 28 , 7 pm
Director: Vijay Singh
A gripping docu-fiction film portraying the lives of Indian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during World War I, using rare archival footage, historical testimonies, 100-year-old war songs and 600 letters
written home by the soldiers about their mind-altering experiences in France. The screening will be followed by a discussion.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut Set during the World War II, this period film supposedly portrays the life and times of Mary Ann Evans (aka Fearless Nadia), said to be Bollywood’s first stunt woman.
Australian-Indian actor Pallavi Sharda on making her way to Hollywood while keeping her desi ties intact
Pallavi Sharda is the perfect example of what it means to be a global Indian. With interests ranging from musical productions (Shruti Merchant’s Taj Express) to beauty pageants, this 28-year-old lawyer-turned-actor is anything but dull. Since her spectacular entry to Bollywood with My Name is Khan, Pallavi has been noted for her eclectic mix of roles aimed at breaking the mould of ‘just another NRI girl’. With her breakthrough Hollywood film Lion set for its India release today, the Australian-Indian actor opens up about the perks of having a cross-cultural heritage.
Working on Lion was a great experience. Aside from the fabulous star cast and exceptional director, it is a truly cross-cultural story about a boy who is searching for his identity. The theme resonated very strongly with me as a person, being an Australian-Indian with dual heritage.
Hollywood vs Bollywood
Working in the West is a very egalitarian experience in which everyone has equal standing on set, be it the lead cast, supporting actors, director or crew. That’s not to say I don’t love Bollywood—it will always be the place that enabled me to start my career as an actor. I love its quirks.
Her role in Begum Jaan
I star in Srijit Mukherji’s Begum Jaan with a spectacular group of female actors, in particular, Vidya Balan. Being able to perform alongside her reminded me so much of why I chose to become an actor in the first place. It is a story of human triumph centred around women, which is unlike anything I have done before.
Women on screen
Taking on a role like the one I am portraying in Begum Jaan was a very conscious decision. I have always played very strong female characters who hold their own. I have previously shied away from overtly dealing with issues pertaining to sexuality, due to my own upbringing as a ‘good Indian girl’, but no more. Now I realise that if I didn’t explore the full spectrum of what it can mean to be a woman—both in Indian society and Western society—then I was only letting myself down, as well as my audience.
I believe in the power of movement meditation through dance and yoga. Yoga is a fool-proof way to maintain physical and mental fitness. It requires flexibility, balance and strength—a triumvirate which is a metaphor for leading a good life.
— Arya P Dinesh
Inside Chanakya’s Mind
Radhakrishnan Pillai isn’t quite done with his fascination for Chanakya, not even after a handful of best-sellers — Chanakya in Daily Life, Chanakya in You, and Corporate Chanakya — all based on the 4th Century royal advisor’s treatise, the Arthashastra. While Pillai has firmly established his position as the modernist disseminator of Chanakya’s teachings, his latest release is a management guide, historical chronicle and self-help handbook all rolled into one, focussing on the concept of “aanvikshiki” or “the ultimate knowledge of self-realisation”. Easy to read, with youngsters in mind, no doubt, this is “ancient wisdom, modern gyan”, as one jacket blurb puts it, treading on being mildly pedagogical over matters such as of “Human and Divine Thinking”. For all its analytical wealth, yet, we’re holding on to our copies of Chanakya Neeti by BK Chaturvedi. Penguin Random House India, `350.
— Jaideep Sen
The CEO Who Lost His Head
The esoteria laced into this whodunnit by former editor of DNA Mumbai, Aditya Sinha, is its biggest undoing. Sinha sacrifices subtlety for luridness, not least with his characters unimaginatively named Buster Das (“Bastard” for short), and the police officers Sandesh Solvekar and Mona Ramteke. Sinha appears to be nursing personal jollies over his unceremonious ousting from DNA in 2012, and there might well be a few riant former employees toasting his book as a last hurrah of sorts. For the rest of us, though, the story of a murdered newspaper CEO — evidently based more on whim than genuine research — suggests little more than a plot gone wrong at the very beginning. Pan Macmillan India, `299.
This week’s latest releases from the worlds of technology, fiction and children’s fantasy
The tag line of this
book by Brad Stone, a senior executive editor for technology at Bloomberg News, reads: “How Uber, Airbnb and the killer companies of the new Silicon Valleys are changing the world”. Stone profiles the most radical companies of Silicon Valley, in the spirit of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, looking at a new generation of brilliant entrepreneurial upstarts and idiosyncratic founders looking to rewrite the traditional rules of business, and spark the next cultural upheaval through technology. Penguin Random House, Rs 699.
Three Daughters of Eve
Elif Shafak, the most widely read female writer in Turkey, presents a sweeping tale of faith, love and friendship set across Istanbul and Oxford. The story begins with Peri, a wealthy housewife, on her way to a dinner party, when a beggar snatches her handbag. In the struggle, an old Polaroid falls out, taking her back to Oxford University, as an 18-year-old sent abroad for the first time. One of the most influential intellectuals of her time, Shafak is a public speaker, and
a women’s and LGBT rights activist. Penguin Random House, Rs 599.
The House That Spoke
This debut novel by 15-year-old Zuni Chopra, daughter of film critic Anupama Chopra and filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, is set in Kashmir. An avowed fan of Lewis Carroll, Zuni tells the story of Zoon Razdan, a youngster in a magical house, where she talks to the fireplace, the books, and even the portraits. When a force of darkness returns to the home, Zoon has to claim her right as guardian of the house, and subsequently, Kashmir. Penguin Random House India, Rs 299.
Few people have known of the scandalous love affair between Jinnah and “Ruttie” Petit, until now
tHE inside story of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s courtship with the 16-year-old Rattanbai “Ruttie” Petit has taken as long as the history of independent India and Pakistan to resurface in the public sphere, with a new book by Sheela Reddy, the former books editor of Outlook magazine. Soundly researched and vividly detailed, the book foregrounds the regalia that enveloped the couple’s scandalous affair, in a time fraught with nationalistic struggles. Reddy’s narrative is faultless, treading sensitive material with care, and sidestepping political affairs to focus on the account of the girl, Ruttie, and her shortlived union with Jinnah; she died aged 29, leaving him with a daughter. Before you delve into the emotional wrangling that Reddy astutely dissects, to the point of working a genuine romantic saga, here’s the prelude to what ought to be one of the most infamous, and widely recounted love stories of the age. An excerpt from the book —
BY THE beginning of June, before the rains started to swell the rivers and make the roads impassable, all of Bombay’s rich and well-to-do returned home to their city in fashionable flocks; and with them returned the Petits and Jinnah, separately. Almost instantly, the strange and fascinating story of Jinnah’s and Ruttie’s romance began to do the rounds. Within a fortnight, even a stranger attending a public meeting in Bombay heard about their love story. After being introduced to Jinnah at a public meeting at the Bombay Presidency Association, Kanji Dwarkadas, then a young man of twenty-four, found out the gossip doing the rounds of the city on why the otherwise reserved Jinnah was currently in such unusually high spirits: ‘The reasons for Jinnah’s cheerfulness at the Association’s meeting — I found later. He had spent the two months of summer vacation in Darjeeling with Sir Dinshaw and Lady Dinbai Petit and there he fell in love with
their 16-year-old beautiful daughter, Ruttie. As they returned to Bombay in early June, all Bombay heard of their impending marriage but the parents did not like the
idea of their daughter marrying a Mohammedan. Ruttie was a minor but she was determined to marry Jinnah.’
Kanji, like every other young man of his circle, had worshipped Ruttie from a distance since his student days. Walking on a cold afternoon two years ago across the Bombay Oval, he had caught sight of Ruttie riding in a small carriage driven by a pony. He could not take his eyes off the fourteen-year-old beauty, and watched the carriage and its occupant till they disappeared from sight. He never forgot her face, and discovered who she was from a photograph that appeared in a newspaper three months later. As for Jinnah, Kanji knew of him as a popular leader, without having ever seen him before. Which is why when Kanji saw a dashing man ‘in check
trousers, black coat, hair parted on the side and moustache, addressing the meeting with great confidence and everybody listening with
rapt attention’, Kanji turned to his neighbour to ask who this impressive figure was, earning the retort: ‘You don’t know Jinnah?’
Clearly, Sir Dinshaw’s snub had not cooled Jinnah’s ardour, which was again very unlike the Jinnah the world knew. He had never been known before to chase a woman, especially not one as young and enchanting as Ruttie, preferring to avoid them at the few parties he attended, where he hated the dancing and music, choosing instead to retreat to a quiet corner and engage any man who was interested in what was so far his only passion: politics. But now here he was, wherever Ruttie appeared — at the races, at parties and even the fashionable Willingdon Club where everyone went for the dancing and the live music—talking to her openly, oblivious to people’s looks and whispers. How much his persistence had to do with Ruttie was a matter of guesswork, because she now seemed to be doing all the chasing, going up to him and looking up at him with such open adoration that it would have been beyond even Jinnah’s iron will to resist her had he wanted to. They became the talking point of all Bombay — he for having the audacity to stand up to her father and she for her forwardness. In hindsight, it was hardly surprising that fashionable Bombay was so excited about what could, after all, have fizzled out as a mere teenage crush. But Bombay wanted their love to be something more than
a passing fancy.
Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook India by Sheela Reddy, Penguin Random House India, Rs 699.
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