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    World War 2

    So, in a couple of days, movie lovers will know who takes home the golden statuettes. After a day-long marathon of fashion, film stars and style hits and flubs, the entire operation will be dissected, analysed and examined threadbare on TV, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and every other form of social media.
    I must confess that ita��s a fun ride. The dieted-to-death megastars posing on the red carpet, the emotional acceptance speeches, the frozen smiles of the losers, it all makes for good viewing. But therea��s one thing thata��s a sure bet: a biopic will either win the big prize, or bestow one on its leading man or lady.
    Marilyn MonroeThis is no mentalist-style prediction. Regular Oscar watchers will recall that every time therea��s a biopic (biographical movie on a real person); ita��s almost always a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination. From Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, to Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady, Leonardo di Caprio as Hoover in J Edgar and Howard Hughes in The Aviator, to way back to when Barbra Streisand won as actress-singer Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968), biographies rule. And how can one forget Katherine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in Last King of Scotland, Russell Crowe as tortured mathematician John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles? Oh, and Ben Kingsley bringing Indian history alive in Gandhi.
    So what makes biopics appeal so much to the Academy voters? According to movie analysis website filmsite.org, a�?Films inspired by real-life individuals (especially when they face adversity) usually do well in terms of nominations and often win a�� especially if they are of epic proportion or intense character studies.a�? If you can a�?live the rolea�? like Robert de Niro did when he put on 30 kgs to portray self-destructive boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull, how can you lose? Late film critic Roger Ebert once put his finger on it when he said, Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of J. Edgara�?The Best Actor will go to a performance about a man who is pushing against a very difficult, un-accepting, maddening world.a�? Sound familiar? When I asked Technicolor country head and mega film buff, Biren Ghose, he said, a�?They are safe (like sequels) and make life easy for the studios; they are a�?celebrities playing celebrities!a�� Despite a gazillion a�?freea�� YouTube videos, audiencesA�paid $119M to seeA�JohnnyA�Casha��s story and $79M to see Ray Charlesa��s story in theatres alone.A�The Oscars have mirrored this syndrome for generations!a�?
    This year, we see Eddie Redmaynea��s sterling performance as ALS-ridden genius Stephen Hawking in the biopic The Theory of Everything, up against Benedict Cumberbatcha��s role as World War 2 scientist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Will either biopic prevail? Or will lower-key biopics Selma, about Martin Luther King Jr, or American Sniper about a US Navy Seal, sneak in? After all, as Ghose says, a�?It is the a�?theory ofA�everythinga�� about great personalities but in a�?an imitation gamea��!a�?

    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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      So this is the Year of the Selfie, the dictionarya��s most popular new word, (which, according to the Oxford version, means a self-portrait taken with a hand held smartphone and shared in social media. As if you didna��t know!). On social media a�� Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every form of self-expression in between, ita��s all about that photo you take of yourself a�� with your favourite film star, your yummiest holiday food, your best dress, your bestie, your most fun party last week… well, you get the drift. A Cambridge University psychology lecturer called the selfie habit a�?the thrill of narcissism, uncensored by reflection or judgment…leading to impulsive self-promotion.a�? Really? Then we are a troubled world.
      SAFRICA-MANDELA-MEMORIALAnyway, why shouldna��t one join the gang? Barack Obama has, so has Justin Beiber. Not to mention Narendra Modi, Miley Cyrus (worlda��s most prolific selfie taking celeb), Paris Hilton, Pope Francis and the Mona Lisa (I kid you not!). No surprises that Kim Kardashiana��s #butt #selfie was one of the most popular pics on the Internet until she decided to a�?break ita�� with her #nudies. And of course therea��s Ellen DeGeneresa�� famous multi-celebrity selfie taken at the Oscars earlier this year a�� the most retweeted photograph ever. Therea��s even a Selfie TV show and a somewhat banal Selfie pop song by that name (with a video featuring David Hasselhoff, Snoop Dogg and Darth Vader!). At any given time, on your social media timelines, there is bound to be more than a few selfies.
      Pope FrancisAccording to research, 44 per cent of selfies are taken during holidays and 25 per cent of holiday selfie takers do so even before their flight takes off. For serial selfie addicts, Google provides tips on how to take the perfectly flattering holiday selfie. (Dona��t pout or smoulder unless youa��re trying to be a�?ironica��)
      Even ace photographer Waseem Khana��s Facebook profile features him in selfie mode. He has been shooting selfies even before it was christened a�?selfiea��, he says. a�?Leta��s face it a�� wea��ve always wanted to be in every shot, but until now one person had to be left out a�� the one taking the shot. The selfie takes care of that. Now with fancy gadgets and gadget-savvy people, things are becoming easier. Ita��s not a fad thata��s going away soon.a�?
      Taking a perfect selfie is quite an art form, Waseem agrees. He has seen some a�?unbelievablea�� selfies, he says. a�?A model in New York sends me the most amazing selfies a�� perfect makeup, clothes and angle a�� ita��s a joy to see them.a�? Meanwhile he has a few tips for serial selfie takers: a�?Think before you shoot. Find a flattering angle, the right lighting, and remember the higher or closer you hold your camera to shoot, the more stretched or wide your face will look.a�?
      Ita��s all about selfie-expression in the digital age after all.
      Ruma Singh presents a column on observations, insights and whata��s buzzing in the city.
      m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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