Leisure http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure.rss en Sun Oct 09 11:39:13 IST 2022 https://www.theweek.in/privacy-an-settlement.html india-is-a-country-of-great-spiritual-light-swiss-light-artist-gerry-hofstetter <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/india-is-a-country-of-great-spiritual-light-swiss-light-artist-gerry-hofstetter.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/14/63-Gerry-Hofstetter-new.jpg" /> <p>Do you know that I am the fastest worker in the world?” asks Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You shake your head, but you can anticipate an approaching punchline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“That is because I work at light speed,” he says, and breaks into a loud guffaw. You do not expect this man with the unruly hair and solemn demeanour—who perfectly fits the stereotype of the otherworldly artist far removed from the concerns of daily life—to have a humorous side. But Hofstetter does, and it manifests at the most unexpected moments. Like when he says that he would like to see us dancing to Bollywood music when he comes to India later this month. His voice brims with enthusiasm, and it is clear that it is a much-awaited trip. Although it is for business and not just for pleasure. Hofstetter, 60, has been invited by the Swiss embassy to create light art at the grand finale of the Swiss network’s ‘Swiss It!’ initiative, as part of which 35 events were organised in 30 Indian cities in three years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The artist says he has been wanting to visit India for many years now, ever since 2003, when he projected the Taj Mahal onto a giant iceberg at the South Pole. But he did not because he was so enthralled with the country that he was afraid he would not be able to return. “I had fallen in love with Indian films, people and culture,” he says. “It is such a fascinating country. I work with light and India is a country of great spiritual light.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hofstetter developed an interest in art when he was around 16. His oil paintings of horse portraits, he says, sold for $5,000 each. Much later, he would use this talent to paint the slides that would be projected onto mountains and monuments. He started doing light art to promote his own events (In 1995, he founded a marketing, event and design company), but soon began taking up commissioned projects. Often, he uses his art to convey messages, like when he illuminated the Matterhorn from several heavy-lift helicopters in 2005 to draw attention to the issue of glacial retreat in the Alps. Or when he illuminated icebergs from a Russian expedition boat in 2003 to highlight the issue of global warming. Or when he projected an image of the polar bear, which usually lives in the Arctic, onto the Antarctic at the South Pole.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His work is awe-inspiring, and a sobering reminder of how small we are in the ultimate scheme of things. Hofstetter is the alchemist who can turn light into language, and use it to tell a story. As Dr Ralf Heckner, the Swiss ambassador to India, says, what is striking about Hofstetter’s work is the unique combination of technological expertise and universal symbolism. “[His works] put a smile on people’s faces and inspire reflection,” he says. Hofstetter himself puts more emphasis on the symbolism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is very easy actually,” he says about the technical part. “I project static pictures that I paint on slides. Then I need electricity, through generators mostly. And transportation—helicopters, trucks, SUVs, horses, sometimes even camels—to carry the projectors. We use high-tech cameras and state-of-the-art drones.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The real challenge, he says, is in conceptualising the projects. “The full power of creativity is when you can get information out of the server of your life, feed it into your brain and produce an idea,” he says, giving the example of how he conceptualised the image of Queen Elizabeth II laughing and holding hands with her husband, Prince Philip, up on the clouds. As a tribute to the queen, this image lit up the night sky in Switzerland on September 17. “When the British embassy asked me to create something for the queen, I knew I did not want to do a simple portrait of hers, the kind that is common on mugs and T-shirts everywhere,” he says. “So, I imagined how the queen would be waiting to meet her husband, who would receive her on the clouds. I checked the forecast and found that in 27 hours, there would be a weather condition that would occur only once in a thousand years and last for 20 seconds— with fog, rain clouds, a little fresh snow and a full moon below the horizon of the mountains. I got to working fast and in 27 hours, I had created the work.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the years, Hofstetter has collected many such experiences. Like how he created the world’s biggest artwork—a 5,200m-long tiger on the Eiger North Face of the Swiss Alps—or how he almost died in a sandstorm in Egypt, where he had gone to light up the White Desert, the pyramids of Gizeh, the Sphinx and the Egyptian National Museum. Near-death experiences, in fact, are almost an occupational hazard. Case in point: When heavy fog caused his boat to crash into a 500m-long iceberg off Greenland while he was projecting the Titanic onto it, on the 100th anniversary of its maiden voyage. He was trapped inside for hours and finally had a narrow escape through a hole in the boat, one metre above the water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The one insight he has gained through all his adventures is the universality of the human spirit. “I have visited more than 87 countries as a light artist, a special forces captain in the mountains, a helicopter pilot and an investment banker,” he says. “What I have come to realise is that everyone on this planet has the same goal. They just want to be taken as they are, without any prejudices.” And that, ultimately, is what he wants to do: Use his light to enlighten us, not just from without, but from within as well.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/india-is-a-country-of-great-spiritual-light-swiss-light-artist-gerry-hofstetter.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/india-is-a-country-of-great-spiritual-light-swiss-light-artist-gerry-hofstetter.html Sun Oct 16 10:32:45 IST 2022 netflix-series-on-serial-killer-jeffrey-dahmer-does-not-offer-anything-new <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/netflix-series-on-serial-killer-jeffrey-dahmer-does-not-offer-anything-new.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/14/66-Conversations-With-a-Killer.jpg" /> <p>Some way into the first episode of Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, Dahmer says, “I wanna know why I am what I am”. It is a tantalising question. Yet, it never gets answered in Netflix’s latest on the serial killer, who started his gory spree of murders in 1978. By the time he was arrested in 1991, Dahmer’s count of victims was 16.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>True crime and serial killer junkies are bound to have watched at least one of the five films that have been made on Dahmer. Television has also served up at least 15 series on him. So, why should Netflix have made yet another docu-drama on him? Because, for the first time, 32 hours of tape-recorded interviews with him—mostly by his defence attorney, Wendy Patrickus—were recently released. So, Netflix decided to jump on to the Dahmer bandwagon once again, barely a month after it released Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, a 10-episode series which explores the ways and motives of Dahmer, played by Evan Peters. It got middling reviews despite its climb to the number one spot within a week of its release in September.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This latest offering is part of the Conversations With a Killer series. Of this, The Ted Bundy Tapes were the most impactful, which is not saying much as they did not say anything new about the killer’s motivations, thus defeating the show’s purpose. If Bundy’s interviews totalling 100 hours could offer nothing new, Dahmer’s recordings of less than one-third of that offer even less.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The three-episode series collates interviews with attorneys, friends of survivors, detectives, a forensic psychiatrist, police officers, Dahmer’s father, grainy family photos, home-made videos, blurry enactments, and stock footage to piece together Dahmer’s story. At places, there is an almost morbid sense of attempting a justification of Dahmer’s twisted personality. Patrickus, for instance, says that she would, at times during the interviews, be Dahmer’s mother, and at others, his therapist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dahmer’s own reading of himself is not that charitable. At different points he talks of his sick pleasure, the lack of empathy and his morbid curiosity of the human anatomy to explain his deeds. He does see the evil of his ways, but at no point is there regret in his voice. After a while, it gets tediously repetitive—the shots of him making coffee laced with sleeping pills for his victims, the film roll of his victims and the tape recorder being passed across the prison table.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The only slim bit of logic offered in the series is that Dahmer’s crimes went unnoticed because many of his victims were gay men of colour—not a group of interest or concern to law enforcement. His being at large for so long was also an example of police negligence, for as far back as 1968, he had been evaluated by a psychiatrist as “too dangerous to be in society”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Patrickus says that Dahmer was willing to talk as long as he did not run out of coffee and cigarettes. In the end, that seems to be the only justification for the rambling tapes which give nothing away.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/netflix-series-on-serial-killer-jeffrey-dahmer-does-not-offer-anything-new.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/netflix-series-on-serial-killer-jeffrey-dahmer-does-not-offer-anything-new.html Fri Oct 14 16:23:12 IST 2022 all-my-women-are-militants-writer-meena-kandasamy <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/all-my-women-are-militants-writer-meena-kandasamy.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/14/68-Meena-Kandasamy.jpg" /> <p>On a rainy evening, Meena Kandasamy walks into the coffee shop in a long black skirt and sleeveless T-shirt. “Am I late?” she asks gently, before slipping into a chair. Her spoken word might be soft, but her written word is razor sharp, and she puts it to good use against existing hierarchies, patriarchy, and social injustice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Words are the little space that we are allowed to negotiate on our own,” she says as she sips her filter coffee. “Our destiny is our anger and our fight against the system, and I do it using words.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The poet, novelist and social activist takes pains to upend traditional beliefs in her books. In her world, women are not passive, nor are the downtrodden voiceless. In Ms Militancy, her second anthology of poems which came out in 2010, the outlet for her rage is a bevy of mythological women. Her Kali kills, Draupadi strips, and Sita climbs onto a stranger’s lap. “All my women are militants,” she says. “They brave bombs, belittle kings and take on the sun. They take after me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kandasamy herself is a ‘Ms Militant’, said the vice-president of the German PEN Centre, which recently awarded her the Hermann Kesten Prize 2022 for being “a fearless fighter for democracy and human rights”. Kandasamy is that, for sure, by nurture as much as by nature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Born in 1984 in Chennai, she is the daughter of two university professors. Her mother, Vasantha, fought for the implementation of reservation policy for 18 years. Many times, Kandasamy assisted her in fighting the court case. Her father belonged to a nomadic tribe (Andi Pandaram) and was the first graduate from a village near Trichy. He went on to earn a PhD in Tamil literature. Things started to change when Kandasamy began understanding how deeply entrenched caste was in society. Slowly, the anger built up inside her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I started [my activism] when I was 12,” she says. Armed with a doctorate in socio-linguistics from Anna University, she became the editor of The Dalit, a bimonthly alternative English magazine. Around this time, she also took to translation. She translated into English the essays and speeches of Thol. Thirumavalavan—the founder of the political party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. In 2007, she translated Dravidian ideologue Periyar’s feminist tract, Penn Yaen Adimai Aanaal? (Why Were Women Enslaved?), and co-wrote the first English biography of Kerala’s iconic Dalit leader, Ayyankali. The works of Kandasamy, who currently lives with her Belgian partner and two young sons, has appeared in 18 languages and she is the recipient of several international awards, fellowships and prizes for her literary work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her debut collection of poems, Touch, themed around caste and untouchability, came out in 2006, and then came Ms Militancy. In 2014, she wrote her first novel, The Gypsy Goddess, in which she powerfully recounts the massacre of 44 dalit agricultural labourers in Keezhvenmani, near Tirunelveli, on December 25, 1968. She did what mainstream Indian literature had not done in four decades—look at the incident through the prism of caste.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While her experiences trickled through The Gypsy Goddess, it was really in her second novel, When I Hit You, Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife (2017), that her life became the fodder for her literature. It was the horror of a marriage gone sour—in which she was subjected to physical and psychological violence—that inspired the book. At a time when she had to file a case to stop her husband from harassing her, it was her books and her writing that gave her psychological relief. “For three or four years after my marriage ended, I used to have nightmares,” says Kandasamy. “I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Such fear and anger, channelled in the right direction, she says, can effect powerful change. She gives the example of her character Kannagi in Ms Militancy. “Tamil culture reduces Kannagi to just an example of chastity—somebody who loves her husband so much that she will do anything for him,” she says. “But the heart of her story is that she is somebody who fights the state. She questions what happened to her husband. How did he die? Why did he die? How do you kill somebody unfairly? So when you look at it like that, it is just like the stories of the women of Kashmir or Tamil Nadu demanding justice for those who have gone missing. If Kannagi’s rage can destroy the city of Madurai, it means a woman’s anger can take on the state and become a symbol of resistance.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kandasamy has been fierce with her pen, but it is not just in her writing that her conviction comes through. She has been openly critical of the arrest of her fellow writers like Varavara Rao and former Delhi University professor, G.N. Saibaba. But can such politics of hate and oppression really keep her going? Her answer is to point to the works of those like Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie, whose early books had a huge influence on her. Like these crusaders for justice, she learnt an important lesson early on in her life—that sometimes you have to break before you can fix.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/all-my-women-are-militants-writer-meena-kandasamy.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/all-my-women-are-militants-writer-meena-kandasamy.html Fri Oct 14 16:19:36 IST 2022 wrong-prescription <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/wrong-prescription.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/14/69-Wrong-prescription-new.jpg" /> <p>Recently, a dangerous challenge dubbed ‘sleepy chicken’ made waves on social media. #Sleepychicken encouraged social media users to eat chicken cooked in NyQuil—an over-the-counter medication made by Vicks for cold and flu—or another similar OTC cough medication. Now, the US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is not the first time that the FDA has had to issue a warning against a social media trend involving an OTC drug. In September 2020, another similar challenge—the ‘Benadryl challenge’—started trending. Benadryl is an antihistamine used to treat allergic symptoms, hay fever and the common cold. The challenge encouraged users to take large doses of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations. The FDA then warned that a higher-than-recommended dose of Benadryl can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There have been OTC drug trends of desi origin, too. In fact, one of the earliest social media trends of 2022 in the Indian virtual space was based on the consumption of Dolo 650. As the Omicron cases rose in the country, Dolo 650 trended as the ‘favourite food’ of the era. Brands like Dabur, Zomato and Myntra then did some newsjacking with hilarious posts that warned social media users to avoid self-prescription of Dolo. “Gentle reminder to not eat Dolo 650 as a snack… you can continue scrolling thenks,” read the Zomato post.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/wrong-prescription.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/14/wrong-prescription.html Fri Oct 14 16:16:29 IST 2022 unlike-holocaust-no-one-remembers-sri-lankan-war-booker-shortlisted-writer <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/unlike-holocaust-no-one-remembers-sri-lankan-war-booker-shortlisted-writer.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/8/63-Shehan-Karunatilaka.jpg" /> <p>The 26-year-long civil war between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ended in 2009, was perhaps one of the longest and bloodiest wars in recent times. The Eelam war, as the Tamils called it, was a cesspool of horror stories that left a deep scar in the minds of Sri Lankan citizens. The turmoil in the country today harks back to that violent past of political murders, exodus of refugees and storming of government establishments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When life turns into such a purgatory, looking at it through the lens of tragedy would be somehow inadequate. That is why Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka, 47, chose a different weapon—dark comedy. He first wielded it in his first novel, Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew (2010), which won him the Commonwealth Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. In the book, he uses cricket as a device to frame the pain and agony of civil war victims through the story of a drunken cricket journalist who decides to track down the greatest left-arm Sri Lankan spinner of the 1980s, Pradeep Mathew. If death was the predominant motif of the civil war, then Karunatilaka cockily acknowledges it by setting his second and third novels, Chats With The Dead (2010) and The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (2022), in the afterlife—through the story of Maali Almeida, the war photographer who wakes up one morning to find himself dead. As he navigates the afterlife, jostled by a group of chatty ghosts, he is tasked with solving his own murder, a difficult task in a war-ravaged country where there is no dearth of land-mines, suicide bombings and death squads. He has seven moons to get a box of war photographs, which he has hidden in his room, to the outside world. The photographs, he knows, will shock the country and maybe even topple the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is one of the six books shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year, which will be announced on October 17. Others include Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, Treacle Walker by Alan Garner, The Trees by Percival Everett and Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout. Karunatilaka feels that unlike the Holocaust, about which much has been written, there is a black hole in public memory when it comes to the Sri Lankan conflict. Once, at a writers’ workshop, he was surprised that not even the literary circles knew much about it. One of the reasons, he feels, is because not many images of the war have survived. “Maybe there are a few photographs that are being used, but they do not capture the scale of the atrocities,” he tells me from his home in Kurunegala in the central-western province of Sri Lanka. “And there are a couple of questions in my mind. For example, where are these photographers? Why are they just here in these stories? I started imagining how these photographers had their cameras confiscated in the conflict, and how they were all exiled. Somewhere, they are living in hiding, waiting to exhibit these photographs. This was a great literary area for me to explore. I found the device of framing the story as a supernatural murder mystery to be useful.” He took almost a decade to visit war-ravaged places, speak to families of victims, experience their pain and then bring it out through Maali’s Nikon lens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karunatilaka’s tryst with literature began in college. His father wanted him to pursue accountancy, but he joined the literature course without telling his father. It was only in his third year that Karunatilaka enlightened him. After college, wanting a creative outlet, he drifted into advertising. Simultaneously, he was playing bass for a rock band. It was while writing lyrics for a song that he fully realised his flair for writing. The lyrics, he found, came very easy for him. So he decided to go full-throttle and give his all to writing his first book, Chinaman. “Since then, my life has been action-packed with lots of reading and writing,” he says. “While Chinaman travelled the world, I got married, had children, moved to Singapore and wrote my second novel.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like his ghosts, his literary heroes—Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, David Mitchell and William Goldman—wade in and out of his books, in the form of the writing style that he has adopted. If these honed his sense of satire, his early influences—Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Ira Levine—created in him a love for the dramatic, out of which were born his drunken sports journalists and lavish ghosts. They don’t just people his novels, they also haunt your imagination, much after you turn the last page.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Shehan Karunatilaka</b><br> <i>Published by</i> <b>Penguin</b></p> <p><i>Pages</i> <b>400</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs399</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/unlike-holocaust-no-one-remembers-sri-lankan-war-booker-shortlisted-writer.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/unlike-holocaust-no-one-remembers-sri-lankan-war-booker-shortlisted-writer.html Sun Oct 09 11:49:27 IST 2022 gujarati-films-like-chhello-show-focus-on-innovative-themes <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/gujarati-films-like-chhello-show-focus-on-innovative-themes.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/8/67-A-still-from-Chhello-Show.jpg" /> <p>In 2012, Gujarati movie Kevi Rite Jaish, about the Patel fascination with migrating to the US, signalled a revival of sorts for the state’s film industry. The next year, The Good Road became the first Gujarati movie to represent India at the Oscars. In 2019, Hellaro, about a group of women from Kutch in the 1970s, won the best feature film award at the 66th National Film Awards. And now, Pan Nalin’s Chhello Show, or The Last Film Show, is India’s official entry to the Oscars, pipping mass favourites like RRR and The Kashmir Files.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gujarati cinema is going back to its roots, with innovative themes and experimental stories set in locales that the people are familiar with. Case in point is Chhello Show, a part-autobiographical drama that captures the charm of western Gujarat, from where Nalin hails. The filmmaker—who has directed award-winning movies like Samsara (2001), Ayurveda: The Art of Being (2001), Valley of Flowers (2006) and Angry Indian Goddesses (2015)—pays homage to Gujarati cinema of the past in it. Chhello Show, about a nine-year-old boy’s love for movies, is a tribute to childhood innocence and the universal magic of cinema. It had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and has since won several awards, including the Golden Spike at the Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain. It is set to release in India on October 14.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Ours will be a focused campaign and we want the maximum number of Academy [members] to watch it. There are 7,000 to 10,000 voting members. Hundreds have already seen the film and liked it,” Nalin told THE WEEK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After almost nine months of preparation, the team finished shooting in three- and-a-half months, just before the lockdown began in March 2020. Since it is an Indo-French co-production, the editing was done in France.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Paresh Vyas, writer of Gujarati films Passport (2016) and Saheb (2019), says that Chhello Show is inspirational as it beautifully captures Gujarat in different seasons. According to him, the industry has advanced technologically as well in the last decade.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Filmmaker and professor Darshan Ashwin Trivedi agrees. “We have started experimenting with different genres and narratives, and content creation has become sophisticated,” he says. “We use the same kind of cameras that are used in Bollywood.” There was extensive use of VFX in his films Mrugtrushna (2021) and Mara Pappa Superhero (2021).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the returns in the Gujarati film industry (Dhollywood) are not as high as in film industries of the south, the average production cost of a movie is between Rs2 crore and Rs2.5 crore. According to distributor Vandan Shah, 95 per cent of Gujarati movies do not even break even.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Around 60 movies are shown in theatres every year. Publicist Chetan Chauhan, who keeps a close watch on Dhollywood, says that the annual turnover of the industry is approximately Rs200 crore, which is about six per cent the size of Bollywood’s business. In 2020, Bollywood had a turnover of around Rs3,800 crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ever since 1932, when the first talkie was made in the state—the biographical movie Narasinh Mehta—the Gujarati film industry has released over a thousand movies. To Bollywood, Gujarat gave several stars like Sanjiv Kumar, Asha Parekh, Paresh Rawal, Dina Pathak, Himesh Reshammiya, Mallika Sarabhai and Parveen Babi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was a surge in film production post-independence, but with the Bombay State being divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960, Dhollywood faced a crisis, as most of the production studios were in Mumbai. Consequently, it witnessed a decline in the last two decades of the 20th century. The mediocrity of the films also contributed to the decline. The industry picked up in the first decade of the 21st century, but a real resurgence came in the last 10 years, when it moved from rural and semi-urban stories based on folk tales and novels to urban narratives covering issues that people could relate with. Filmmakers learnt to package rural stories in a way that appealed to today’s audience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is content-driven films that work in Gujarat, says producer Sharad Patel, whose film Vickida No Varghodo (2022) did well at the box office. In the history of Gujarati cinema, not even reigning stars like Upendra Trivedi, Naresh Kanodia, Arvind Trivedi, Hitesh Kanodia, Pratik Gandhi and Malhar Thakar can save the film if the content and execution is not good. Hellaro is a classic example of a Gujarati movie doing well and appealing to all age groups without casting a star actor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Entertainment is not about making people laugh. It is about what touches you,” says Abhishek Shah, director and producer of Hellaro. According to him, young actors have stayed back in Gujarat instead of moving to Mumbai following the revival in the last decade. Many of these actors have gone on to do well on OTT platforms, like Gandhi, who played Harshad Mehta in the hit series, Scam 1992. He stayed to do a few Gujarati movies before moving to Mumbai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahmedabad-based sociologist Gaurang Jani says that one of the reasons that Dhollywood took time to come into its own is because Gujarati literature is far behind the literature from the south and west. Noted lyricist Saumya Joshi confirms this. He says that if the industry starts churning out region-specific films, like how the south does, then a Rs100 crore movie might not be far out of reach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another hurdle for Gujarati filmmakers and producers is marketing these movies. “At a time when people do not even have time to watch a three-minute trailer, how do you make them watch an entire movie?” asks Chauhan. “We need to identify the areas where the movie works and promote these accordingly.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/gujarati-films-like-chhello-show-focus-on-innovative-themes.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/gujarati-films-like-chhello-show-focus-on-innovative-themes.html Sat Oct 08 16:42:31 IST 2022 heres-shivesh-bhatias-favourite-eggless-recipe <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-shivesh-bhatias-favourite-eggless-recipe.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/8/69-Shivesh-Bhatia-new.jpg" /> <p>Shivesh Bhatia’s Instagram page is one delicious feed. You will get a sugar high just by looking at it. But Instagram’s blue-ticked boy is eyeing more than just eyeballs—the self-taught baker wants his followers (869k and counting) to whip up a sweet storm in their kitchens. And so, recipes dominate his digital space, be it on his Instagram page, YouTube channel or website. But one can relish his bakes not just in bytes, but also in books. Bhatia, 26, has four books to his name, two of which released this September.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The beauty of Bhatia’s baking is that even children can follow his recipes. To make it simpler for them, he has come out with A Cookbook For Special Days, Special People. Perhaps he did not want them to enter the world of baking with burnt cupcakes, like he did with his cousins at the age of 11. Despite the cupcake fiasco, the Delhi lad had fun trying his hand at something he had seen his grandmother and mother do. So, he continued tinkering in the kitchen even as he finished his schooling and graduation (political science). He began posting on Instagram first and then egged on by his friends there started a blog, which later became a website. A lot of his recipes are based on requests from his followers. Most often, people would ask for an egg substitute in his recipes, and that got him into exploring eggless baking. Today, 90 per cent of his recipes are eggless, he says. And, Eggless Baking With Shivesh has all his eggless recipes in one place. The award-winning food blogger and food influencer shares his favourite eggless recipe:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rich, airy, creamy, decadent, this white chocolate mousse is one of the easiest, quickest desserts you can make. And so incredibly versatile! Serve it with fresh berries, mangoes and mint leaves, lime zest or just shards of your favourite chocolate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>INGREDIENTS</b></p> <p>White chocolate, chopped: <b>1½cups</b></p> <p>Fresh cream, warm:<b> ¾cup</b></p> <p>Rose extract/kewra water: <b>1tsp</b></p> <p>Whipping cream: <b>¾cup</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>TO TOP</b></p> <p>Chopped pistachios</p> <p>Dried rose petals</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>METHOD</b></p> <p><b>1</b> Put the chopped white chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the warm cream and rose extract/<i>kewra</i> water over this. Allow it to sit for 1-2 minutes before mixing it with a spatula. Make sure all the chocolate has melted, and there are no lumps. Allow the ganache to cool slightly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2</b> In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream using an electric whisk until it forms stiff peaks, for about 3 minutes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3</b> Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate ganache in three batches so as to not knock out any air.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4</b> Transfer the mousse into glasses and top with crushed pistachios and dried rose petals. Let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-shivesh-bhatias-favourite-eggless-recipe.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-shivesh-bhatias-favourite-eggless-recipe.html Sun Oct 09 11:43:09 IST 2022 heres-how-you-can-watch-the-mets-operas-live-from-home <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-how-you-can-watch-the-mets-operas-live-from-home.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/8/70-A-staging-of-Lady-Macbeth-of-Mtsensk-new.jpg" /> <p>Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was deemed to be offensive and banned for nearly 30 years by the Communist Party in Russia. The story goes that Joseph Stalin himself sat through a performance, a picture of masked fury, while Shostakovich sat quivering in his seat. Still, the opera shed great light on human suffering and oppression. And now, it is fitting that it finds its way back to the Metropolitan Opera at the time of a war between Ukraine and Russia. If violence won’t work against Russia, perhaps satire will!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opera is a great choice for the Met Opera’s 2022-2023 season. And, it is also a great choice for you to watch live from the comfort of your living room, now possible through ‘The Met: Live at Home’, a new initiative by the Met to make its live programmes accessible to viewers from 171 countries, including India. The price of the transmissions, which include free viewings during a seven-day window, will be either $10 or $20, depending on the country. The first live transmission takes place on October 22, and users can access it through the Met’s website.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whether it is Sondra Radvanovsky as the vengeful sorceress in Cherubini’s Medea or Nadine Sierra as the self-sacrificing courtesan in Verdi’s La Traviata—both operas being staged this season—the Met’s new initiative will open a whole new world to you, full of exaggerated pathos, sacrificial pain, and human nature at its most dramatic.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-how-you-can-watch-the-mets-operas-live-from-home.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/heres-how-you-can-watch-the-mets-operas-live-from-home.html Sun Oct 09 11:40:35 IST 2022 polaroid-radio-music-to-the-eyes <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/polaroid-radio-music-to-the-eyes.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/10/8/70-Music-for-the-eyes.jpg" /> <p>Back in 2008, when Polaroid declared itself bankrupt and shuttered its iconic instant film business, nostalgia buffs in photography cried a river. How does the world not see the love and labour behind an instant film, they rued, which is ejected with bated breadth to produce the most wistful, sepia-friendly capture? But Polaroid bounced back into the game almost 10 years later, after surviving bankruptcies in the age of Instagram filters and megapixels. They managed to woo an internet-savvy generation with those chubby-cute instant cameras again. Except that they were more accessible, useful and au courant. The famous American imaging technology company has now forayed into the world of audio. This month, it unveiled four funky bluetooth Polaroid music players, along with Polaroid Radio, meant to be an experimental music discovery service run by the company itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Think of it as a time machine that was the desi Saregama Carvaan when it launched in the guise of a chunky old transistor with bluetooth, USB and FM support. The product became an instant bestseller, especially as a heartfelt gift for elders and parents in the family.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Polaroid range of audio players—from a small wearable device to larger, portable tapes—pays sleek homage to the retro boomboxes of the 1980s with a carrying handle. By inculcating aspects of instant film history, the future of Polaroid is now going towards music, among other exciting offerings. The player can currently be paired with Apple Music, and, eventually Spotify.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prices in India are likely to range from Rs5,000 to Rs25,000.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/polaroid-radio-music-to-the-eyes.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/10/08/polaroid-radio-music-to-the-eyes.html Tue Oct 11 11:47:46 IST 2022 cuddle-confidante <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/cuddle-confidante.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/30/65-Aili-Seghetti-new.jpg" /> <p>Spooning, sitting snuggle, cozy turtle, legs entwined or the happy headlock—you would not ever think about the nomenclature for cuddling positions, especially when entangled in one. But for Mumbai-based Aili Seghetti, founder of The Intimacy Curator—a one-stop shop for dating, intimacy and relationship coaching services—cuddling is not that simple. Hence, Aili informs THE WEEK about the several kinds of cuddling positions she often discusses with her clients when she doubles as a professional cuddler. “Before the session starts, we ask our clients what is it that you would like to do,” she says. “What are the body parts where you wouldn’t want to be touched? What kind of environment do you want? What kind of music and light? What kind of cuddling position are you familiar with? What are the ones that you would like to try? Because there are multiple, right?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On a phone call, Aili explains the modus operandi of her job as a professional cuddler in India where the language of love and affection does not include physical touch in cultural codes and public spaces. As a trained intimacy coach working with somatics (relating to the body), her services in sexual and emotional well-being can too often be misconstrued as disguised sex work in a “touchy-feely” society. When we imagine cuddling for a living, we think about more developed countries like Japan where it is not unusual to spot cuddle cafes for sessions from 20 minutes to a full-night sleep with a cuddle buddy. But the demand for platonic cuddling has risen so much that there are apps like Cuddlr dedicated especially to this act meant to release all the feel-good hormones. As lonely hearts in their 30s and 40s navigate a series of failed relationships in isolating, urban societies beyond failed marriages, cuddle parties are no longer an alien concept in the west. But what is interesting is how they are taking off in conservative nations, from Indonesia to India. Today, there are professional cuddlers in Pune and Bengaluru as well.</p> <p>“Some people come just to relax,” says Aili. “Some want to feel a bit silly, others come to overcome their fears and anxieties around physical touch. Some have never touched anyone from the opposite sex and then some people just want to go into a meditation mode. Others just want to fall asleep in the arms of someone.” Since she started The Intimacy Curator, she has taken on some 150 clients who readily pay Rs15,000 for two-hour sessions. And why would they pay Rs15,000 for a long, loving embrace, perhaps not as freely available as we might think?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Apps have regular people cuddling each other. But we are trained in human psychology and therapy and hence more equipped to sensitively deal with emotional issues when they come up during the act,” says Aili, who took a sex and intimacy coaching course at The Somatica Institute in Los Angeles, apart from courses in neurodynamic breathwork and compassionate inquiry. Her skills as a cuddler become an essential service when dealing with victims of sexual abuse. “Because I am an intimacy coach, I am always very deeply connected to my clients,” says Aili. “So when they cry, I cry, too. And this is what I’ve been trained to do. It’s very different from a therapist where they try to create that distance between a client and practitioner. But I get very intimate emotionally with clients, and I share my stories, too.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aili recalls one instance where a client did not want to be caressed on their forehead as it triggered trauma from an abusive father who would do exactly the same. If it gets too emotional, Aili has to switch to grounding exercises where she reminds her clients that they are now in the present, a safer space. Several members of her team are not trained in handling such overwhelming situations and often during background checks, Aili uses her discretion to assign cuddlers who can offer the most basic act when clients specify their needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her wide-ranging work as an intimacy curator—which does not imply a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or a marriage counsellor—is visible in the many unusual services offered on her website. It includes “dating surrogacy” where a fake date helps clients brush up skills in connection, flirting, seduction and intimacy, “later-life virginity” to explore negative feelings around sex, “infidelity navigation” or “BDSM deep aftercare”. Half Finnish-half Italian, Aili also calls herself an Indophile, having lived in India for the last 15 years. She studied Indian languages like Hindi, Sanskrit and Gujarati at SOAS University of London, and always wanted to live in India. If she now had to write a paper on current cuddling trends in India, Aili would have much to say. For instance, clients across gender identities prefer female cuddlers as it might have a more caring, maternal recall. “Men don’t make good cuddlers,” Aili reaffirms a long-held belief. And most of her clients seeking cuddles are men. Also, she notes how several of her clients have body image issues. “Like they don’t want to be touched on their forehead as they might be losing hair or even their belly area,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under such vulnerable circumstances, if a client gets sexually aroused and seeks services beyond the cuddling remit, Aili does not immediately call for security or shame her subject. She knows how to remind them of their boundaries. “I tell them how to spread that arousal energy across the body through breathing exercises,” says Aili. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of and they can’t be attacked.” But there are many safety moves she needs to initiate on encountering non-compliance. Apart from carrying pepper spray, her work requires her to hire security staff who station themselves somewhere close to the client’s house. “Now if I end up with a psychopath, then what to do?” she asks.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/cuddle-confidante.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/cuddle-confidante.html Tue Oct 04 00:15:22 IST 2022 shikaar-the-play-preys-on-our-notions-of-hunter-and-hunted <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/shikaar-the-play-preys-on-our-notions-of-hunter-and-hunted.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/30/68-Shikaar-was-the-opening-play.jpg" /> <p>What are witches supposed to look like? It is a question five women in a remote Chudail Gharana (coven) want to know when a government official comes calling with the intention of purging their neighbourhood of witches. The upright official carries a manual from his office, which has enumerated their many recognisable features. He also knows a witchcraft de-addiction centre of sorts.</p> <p>The women roll their eyes. They cringe, bicker, bark, hiss, fight and cackle as they go into a huddle to get rid of this pesky, persistent official. In one uproarious scene after another, Shikaar unfolds like an allegorical tale on themes we already know and experience—the machinations of the moral brigade, the culture of insinuation, gender and power play, the fear of assertive women. But it does so without missing a beat of exuberance and rollicking fun that Shikaar’s makers—Sheena Khalid and Puja Sarup of The Patchworks Ensemble—are known to inject in their productions.</p> <p>The beauty and power of Shikaar, which first premiered in 2019 at Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre, lies in the fact that it can be about so many deeper, uncomfortable things or just another romp by a group of wild, wayward women getting ready to feast on their prized hunt.</p> <p>“It is not like the witches represent modern Indian women. We were very clear that we don’t have any specific message to give. Who are we to come on stage and tell audiences how they should be living their lives? The witches represent different things to different people. And that is how we like to keep it,” said Khalid, co-director of Shikaar with Sarup. The two thespians started The Patchworks Ensemble theatre company in 2014 and have gone on to create some of the liveliest, most entertaining plays on Indian stage in recent years, including the acclaimed Gentlemen’s Club aka Tape, on the many drag kings who perform in the underground club scene of Mumbai.</p> <p>Shikaar is set in one of the oldest Chudail Gharanas on a very special evening when it’s the birthday of Dyana, one of the witches. Hence a shikaar (prey) is mandatory for a chudail (witch) and the rest of the family is getting ready to celebrate their lives of sisterhood and hunting-in-subterfuge. This hotly anticipated evening of fun is suddenly interrupted when the government official suddenly pops up with a strange mandate. Seeds of doubt, accusations, and misinformation are sowed as the witches end up going on a witch-hunt themselves.</p> <p>Shikaar was the opening play of the ongoing India Habitat Centre Theatre Festival, which returned after a gap of two years in the capital. In Shikaar, whose story was conceptualised by author Shubhangi Swarup, each of the actors stand out for their own idiosyncrasies and foibles and sustain their defiance with pitch-perfect comic timing, especially Rytasha Rathore as the witch with an accent and a makeup company. “Our process of writing and creating the play is very complicated. But it is also very organic. So much of what you see, the actors are making it their own,” said Khalid, who trained in physical theatre at the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) “We want to try and get our actors to reach a certain state. A state of heightened performance where, while improvising, you become very alert and open. But not that state like maata chad gayee (spiritual possession),” said Khalid, laughing.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/shikaar-the-play-preys-on-our-notions-of-hunter-and-hunted.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/shikaar-the-play-preys-on-our-notions-of-hunter-and-hunted.html Tue Oct 04 00:18:22 IST 2022 lets-go-see-a-mubi <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/lets-go-see-a-mubi.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/30/71-Lets-go-see-a-MUBI.jpg" /> <p>Before the pandemic, I saw Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite and the charming 2019 iteration of Little Women starring Timothee Chalamet at PVR Cinemas for free. All thanks to MUBI, the global streaming service for hand-picked cinema—from cult classics to unheard-of gems. Introduced in 2019 for Indian audiences when the on-demand streaming service had just launched in India, MUBI GO was a special incentive for subscribers to go watch some great new cinema the way it should be seen—on the big screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Each week, MUBI’s curators hand-picked a new film opening in theatres as the ‘Film of the Week’. Members received a ticket code generated via the MUBI GO app that could be presented each week at participating theatres to claim one complimentary ticket. I had promptly subscribed to MUBI as soon as it had launched in India in late 2019, but learnt about the MUBI GO app much later in January 2020. Needless to say, the free run ended when a raging virus shuttered all cinema screens in March.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But now—to the joy of all those who hoped to hit the theatres with friends who are MUBI subscribers—MUBI GO is back. Subscribers can redeem their weekly ticket via the MUBI GO app and also receive full access to MUBI’s breathtaking library of brilliant cinema. New users can avail of an introductory offer of Rs 2,499 for a one-year subscription.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“MUBI GO received immense love and appreciation on its launch prior to the pandemic,” said Svetlana Naudiyal, programming director at MUBI, Asia. “We are excited that our members can once again watch amazing films not only online, but also in real cinemas across the country.” This week’s selection is a re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar in the run-up to the upcoming sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/lets-go-see-a-mubi.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/lets-go-see-a-mubi.html Tue Oct 04 00:19:39 IST 2022 is-google-search-being-dethroned-by-tiktok-and-instagram <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/is-google-search-being-dethroned-by-tiktok-and-instagram.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/30/71-Dethroning-Google.jpg" /> <p>There is more to TikTok and Instagram than trendy dance videos and freaky challenges. Many Gen Z-ers are now using these apps as their primary search and discovery platforms, and the trend is worrying none other than search engine giant, Google. At a recent tech conference, Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan revealed that around 40 per cent of young Americans—aged between 18 and 24—preferred TikTok and Instagram over Google Maps or its search option while scouting for a restaurant. A December 2021 study by American firm Cloudflare had also shown this shift; it found that Google had been dethroned by TikTok as the most popular domain of 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tech experts say the high audio-visual and immersive engagement of TikTok and Instagram make them more preferred by the younger generation, compared with the more textual information provided by a Google search. A short video below 30 seconds is more appealing to them than reading an entire blog post.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like any other search algorithm, TikTok and Instagram are collecting data to tailor user experience. They are also generating a personalised page for the users through which they feed them content—anything from restaurants and fashion trends to beauty products and news—without even an actual keyword-based search.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Google is now trying to counter the popularity of TikTok and Instagram with more immersive ads and better AI optimisation.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/is-google-search-being-dethroned-by-tiktok-and-instagram.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/30/is-google-search-being-dethroned-by-tiktok-and-instagram.html Fri Sep 30 12:04:08 IST 2022 israeli-artist-meydad-eliyahus-exhibition-explores-history-of-cochini-jews <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/israeli-artist-meydad-eliyahus-exhibition-explores-history-of-cochini-jews.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/25/63-Meydad-Eilyahu-new.jpg" /> <p>In July 1948, thousands of Palestinian men, women and children left their homes in Ramla and Lydda fearing brutalities from Israel, the Jewish state that had come into being on May 14, 1948. Soon, these ancient towns that lay between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, outside the Jewish state designated in the UN Partition Plan of 1947, were swarmed with Jewish immigrants who returned to their “promised land” from different parts of the world. And, the cities’ character transformed from predominantly Arab to Jewish. In the last six decades, the Jewish state systematically erased much of the evidence of the Palestinian expulsion from Ramla, including stories of the city’s Muslim past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Jerusalem-based artist Meydad Eliyahu started researching his solo exhibition ‘Copper Wing’—which is currently on at the Contemporary Art Centre, Ramla—he found a striking similarity between the city’s history and that of his own Cochini Jew community. Eliyahu’s forefathers made the aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Kochi, Kerala, in 1954. “I saw a parallel in the way history was repressed in the case of Ramla as well as in the case of the Cochini community,” he says. “However, the Jewish state alone is not responsible, but the community itself played a part [in erasing its Indian past] to merge with the general population.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cochini Jews, also known as Malabari Jews, are considered to be the oldest Jewish sect in the Indian subcontinent. They came to the Malabar coast via ancient trade routes and flourished as a community. When Israel was formed, most of the community members immigrated to the new country. However, they suffered humiliation and prejudice there.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eliyahu says the immigration also brought dramatic changes in the community. “They immigrated from Kerala, a land that is fertile and with so much greenery, to be resettled in an undeveloped desert land, where there were no trees or water, but only rocks and sand,” he says. “But Cochini Jews convinced themselves that they should put aside their Indian past. They stopped living their lives as Indian or Malayali.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The artist cites an example from his own family. His father was one of the earliest to marry outside the strongly endogamous Cochini community. “My mother was born in Israel, and she was not from a Cochini family,” says Eliyahu. “My parents were one of the earliest mixed couples in the community. My father wanted a more ‘Israeli’ way of living, and he found a nice partner outside the community.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was while working on his 2016 project, ‘The Box of Documents’, that Eliyahu started obsessively searching for his roots. The “big silence” from his father’s family about their lives in Kochi led him on a quest to find the missing links. During his research, Eliyahu explored and learned about many unrecognised traditions and forgotten historical events of his community. In his latest exhibition—’Copper Wing’—he proposes a place for these traditions in the Israeli cultural milieu. ‘Copper Wing’ also challenges the narrow perception of India in Israel—only as a “spiritual” place, or as a centre for yoga or drugs. The kind of cultural richness that Indian Jews brought to Israel has been forgotten.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eliyahu dedicated ‘Copper Wing’ to the memory of his father, Avaraham, who died while Eliyahu was preparing for the exhibition. Avaraham was just six when the family—a wealthy and influential one among the Jews of Kochi—made its aliyah. They settled in a moshav (cooperative agriculture settlement) in Mesillat Zion. Avaraham grew up to become a public figure in the community. “My father knew Malayalam. So, he used to translate for elders [who were not proficient in Hebrew]; he helped them to communicate with the Israeli bureaucracy,” says Eliyahu. “He was like a bridge for them. He was a bridge for me also; one that connected me to the Indian culture.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eliyahu uses a cashew curtain as an important motif in ‘Copper Wing’, something that he associates with a particular memory about his father, Ramla and India. “Every time my father went to Ramla, he used to bring back cashews,” says Eliyahu. “Kerala is known for cashews. So, for me, it was symbolic; I felt that buying cashews was my father’s way of reconnecting with Kerala via Ramla—where there is the presence of all four Indian Jewish communities.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The cashew curtain installation is made of copper cut-outs. At the centre of the exhibition space is a hollow pipe with a rough surface. This installation simulates the idea of a trunk that leads to “other spaces which may even be imagined expanses”. It is inspired by the trunks of Ramla’s palm trees and Kerala’s coconut trees.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another important installation in the exhibition is an open notebook made out of a copper plate, with texts in Hebrew, English and Malayalam. It was inspired by a notebook Eliyahu saw when he visited a Cochini Jew family in Ramla. The notebook belonged to the late Esther Tiferet, who had left Kerala in the 1970s, and spoke only English and Malayalam. “She translated Hebrew terms into English and Malayalam, and noted them down in her book,” says Eliyahu. The notebook was a testimony to the pain and effort of his people to get integrated into the Israeli state. The choice of the copper plate as the medium was also a conscious decision, says Eliyahu. It refers to the Jewish Copper Plates of Cochin, a royal charter of privileges issued by the Chera king Bhaskara Ravi Varma to Joseph Rabban, a Jewish merchant and community leader, almost a millennium ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eliyahu sees culture and visual art as effective tools to prevent homogenisation and ensure diversity. The artist adds that ‘Copper Wing’ offers an “emotional, spiritual and meditative” experience to visitors who come from diverse backgrounds.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/israeli-artist-meydad-eliyahus-exhibition-explores-history-of-cochini-jews.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/israeli-artist-meydad-eliyahus-exhibition-explores-history-of-cochini-jews.html Sun Sep 25 12:33:07 IST 2022 often-i-play-music-loudly-in-my-room-and-just-dance-mallika-sarabhai-in-new-book <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/often-i-play-music-loudly-in-my-room-and-just-dance-mallika-sarabhai-in-new-book.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/25/66-Mallika-Sarabhai-with-her-dogs-Panchali-and-Uttara.jpg" /> <p>There are so many labels to describe Mallika Sarabhai—actor, dancer, activist, writer—that one is tempted to ask the question that Eminem once rapped about: Will the real Mallika please stand up? Mallika herself avoids such banal categorisation. She is at her elusive and playful best as she describes herself on Instagram as: Mongrel. Diverse. Green. Equitable. Humane. Hopeful. Confused? To solve the riddle of Mallika, one must go to her first love: Dance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All her energies flowed from dance. And her dance flowed from grief.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In her new book, In Free Fall: My Experiments With Living, she describes her depression after the death of her father and a painful heartbreak. She remembers sitting on a large chair with armrests in her bedroom, which faced the lawn and the river. “I spent four months of nothingness sitting in this chair, with my legs propped up on the windowsill, looking at the river and asking, why? Why did Papa die? Why did this man let me down? And then, in a Eureka moment, I woke up one morning with a single thought: ‘All I want is to dance’.” Dance became her refuge where she could vent all her feelings. “And I don’t necessarily mean Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. Often I play music loudly in my room and just dance as though I was at a party or a discotheque,” she writes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her book works because it gives an insight into what makes Mallika work. Not just the parts of her that we are familiar with—the woman who gives back-to-back dance performances, takes on the ruling BJP in Gujarat or stands up for the victims of the post-Godhra riots. But the hidden and less savoury parts, too:</p> <p>The Mallika who would smoke 40 cigarettes a day, induce herself to throw up her meals and experiment with all sorts of diets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Published by Speaking Tiger, the book dwells on her obsession with reducing weight, her trials with methods like hypnotism to get off cigarettes and nonviolent communication to improve her relationship with her children. Much like her personality, Mallika’s writing is bold and honest. She speaks her mind without caring what others might think. “I am not sure whether everything [I tried] worked for me,” she tells THE WEEK. “For instance, when I was on a Complan diet, and another time, on an orange diet, it was my youth that carried me forward. I don’t think they would have worked had I tried them later.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Born in the Sarabhai family—considered the first family of Ahmedabad—to renowned space scientist Vikram and dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, Mallika had a privileged childhood. The chubby kid who led a laid-back life and preferred reading to anything else soon metamorphosed into the accomplished woman who dances, meditates, practises yoga, and manages Darpana Academy, the dance school set up by her parents. She loves to try new things and is currently learning to play the mridangam and also, a scientific way to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now at 69, she is comfortable with what she eats and when. For years, people had been asking her about how she maintained her figure and where she got her energy from. Finally, during the pandemic, she decided to write a book on all her learnings over the years. She finished the first draft in three weeks. The book goes beyond diets and passing fads. It explores her past and her insecurities. She describes the drinking habit she developed when she took on the BJP after the post-Godhra riots. She tells of her weak resolve when she was living abroad and on the verge of quitting her role as Draupadi in Peter Brook’s Mahabharata, which catapulted her to fame. Every fifth day she would book a trunk-call to her mother and complain about the cold. Her son, Revanta, was only five months old and needed her, she would say. But her mother convinced her to hang on. If you quit, you will later regret it, her mother told her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, Mallika has also opened up about her relationship with her children, Revanta and Anahita. She describes how hurt she felt when Revanta chose to live with his father, her ex-husband Bipin Shah. Or how she had to ask her daughter Anahita, who came out as gay, to leave the house due to some differences. “Revanta and his wife are very close [to me]. Anahita is estranged and I feel there is some way to go before we can sort out our differences. She is happy with her partner and in her work, and that makes me relieved,” says Mallika.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The actor-dancer, who is currently working on an upcoming show as well as on Sony’s Rocket Boys, has done some drastic things in her life, like chopping off her knee-length hair after her breakup with her ex-husband. “I looked at myself in the mirror and I said that the person I have become at the end of five years of [acting as Draupadi in the play] Mahabharata is not the person I see,” she says. “I needed coherence.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her search for coherence ultimately led to a multi-hyphenated identity. But Mallika, as a person, is much more than the sum of her parts. Perhaps, she herself puts it best. “When asked what I like to be introduced as—dancer, choreographer, publisher, activist, writer, actor—I tend to say that I am a communicator,” she says. “And that all the others are the different languages in which I communicate.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>In Free Fall: My Experiments With Living</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Mallika Sarabhai</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Speaking Tiger</b></p> <p><i>Pages </i><b>216</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs450</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/often-i-play-music-loudly-in-my-room-and-just-dance-mallika-sarabhai-in-new-book.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/25/often-i-play-music-loudly-in-my-room-and-just-dance-mallika-sarabhai-in-new-book.html Sun Sep 25 12:22:56 IST 2022 how-jean-luc-godard-inspired-Indian-filmmakers <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/23/how-jean-luc-godard-inspired-Indian-filmmakers.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/23/Adieu_Godard.jpg" /> <p>In the theatrical release, <i>Adieu Godard</i>, directed by Amartya Bhattacharyya, Ananda, an uneducated, lanky old man in a remote village in Odisha, is addicted to pornography. He cycles long distances every day to bag DVDs of porn films with deceptive covers. He then watches it at home with his crew of four, much to the chagrin of his wife and grown-up daughter. One day, a DVD fails to do its job, and instead plays the French cult classic <i>Breathless</i>, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Annoyed that the film offered “no song, dance, fight and romance”, Ananda’s friends diss him, but he remains captivated by the film. The chance encounter turns Ananda into an Godard fan and he decides to introduce the French filmmaker to his village in order to “make people think and open up their minds”. Ananda’s fascination with Godard bears semblance to Bhattacharyya’s fascination with the iconoclastic French filmmaker who is known to have championed a spontaneous, resolutely modern, intensely free and just-pick-up-a-camera-and-start-shooting style of filming. Godard died earlier this month at the age of 91 by assisted suicide.</p> <p>The 123-minute-long film comes across as a tribute to the world’s most acclaimed directors, known for classics that broke conventional notions and helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking with handheld cameras, jump cuts and existential dialogues. Godard’s famous line, “A movie should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order” became the byword of the new wave movement, and his influence spread far and wide, including in India.</p> <p>Godard made close to a 100 films in a career spanning seven decades and worked until the age of 89, outliving all contemporaries. <i>Adieu Godard</i> is every bit Godardian in its flavour by essentially remaining non-conformist and non-rigid in form and impromptu in delivery. Twenty minutes into the film, Bhattacharyya, skilfully, but suddenly, yanks us out of a black-and-white narrative into a colour scheme in which Shilpa, Ananda’s daughter, is seen telling her father’s story to her boyfriend. The dialogues, delivered in a conversational tone, are short, impactful and engaging as they revolve around discussions on life, sex and cinema, thereby tickling the viewer’s intellectual curiosity. Said Bhattacharyya, ”I have always admired Godard for standing up to the hegemony of classical Hollywood, the studio system and also hegemony related to copyright laws. He is, perhaps, the most radical of all filmmakers of his time. He impressed upon me in so many ways that if one was to deep dive into the subtext of my films, one would find him in so many ways. One of the foremost lessons I took from him was to not live by the rule book, and to shoot to nurture my instincts.” Bhattacharyya joins a long list of filmmakers from Indian cinema who have been inspired by Godard’s freethinking values and principles. According to <i>Adieu Godard’s producer </i>Swastik Choudhury, Anurag Kashyap’s films like <i>Gulaal</i>, <i>Dev.D</i> and <i>Black Friday</i> are testimony to Godard’s break-the-rules kind of cinema.</p> <p>Director Kamal Swaroop’s <i>Om-Dar-B-Dar</i>, a post modernist film from 1988, produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India, is said to have been influenced and inspired by Godard and his free-spirited, restless and dramatically intense stories. A cult classic, Swaroop’s film was way ahead of its times. Its music was out-of-the-box. There was no set narrative, and, yet, one could feel the magic realism peppered with cheeky humour. The plot flourished in its crudeness and the dialogues were snappy.</p> <p>From the 1960s, right through the 1990s, and the millennium, Godard’s contemporaries in India—Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak—were taking notes from France to usher in a wave of the country’s own parallel cinema, when one after the other of Godard’s pathbreaking films hit the box office.</p> <p>Said Bina Paul, former artistic editor, “Godard’s was avant-garde cinema and he brought in a different perspective to the art. He emphasised that it is not the narrative that is important but the dialectic that emanates from joining image to sound, which creates magic. That, in itself, was so revolutionary at that time and he stuck to it throughout his career. He was self-reflexive, deeply intellectual and humourous. There is no Indian filmmaker who follows his style but we all learnt from him… the nuances… how you cut, where you cut, how you use your camera, that is the lasting influence. Even Satyajit Ray always looked up to him and talked about the influence Godard has had on him.”</p> <p>Because of his Marxist leanings, Godard had immense following in Malayalam and Bengali cinema of the past decades. Don Palathara’s <i>Everything is Cinema </i>(2021) takes not just its title from Godard’s biography but also his jump cuts, sound designing and ways of immersing and interrupting with the audience’s experience of storytelling. In Kerala the most notable influence of Godard in terms of story comes from the 2017 film, <i>Mayaanadhi</i>, directed and co-produced by Aashiq Abu. Said Bhattacharyya, ”Godard has questioned hegemony and power, and, to me, he is the face against insitution. His films are not orchestrated, his aesthetics are organic, spontaneous and there is a sense of ultra authenticity and candidness in his style…. I think every cinema has taken from him. If you closely observe cinema pre and post-Godard you will find huge differences in form, language and style.”</p> <p>But it is not easy to follow Godard’s form, said Palathara. “He never wanted people to experience him as a station or airport. Rather, he would ask people to see him as a aeroplane or car in which people take a ride for a while and then get down and proceed on their own journeys.” </p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/23/how-jean-luc-godard-inspired-Indian-filmmakers.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/23/how-jean-luc-godard-inspired-Indian-filmmakers.html Sun Sep 25 11:45:45 IST 2022 done-with-chocolate-boy-image-dulquer-salmaan <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/done-with-chocolate-boy-image-dulquer-salmaan.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/17/65-Dulquer-Salmaan-new.jpg" /> <p>Actor Dulquer Salmaan makes it a point to read almost every review of his films. Some matter, most do not. Having spent 10 years across Tollywood, Mollywood, Kollywood and Bollywood, he has learnt to take “unnecessary negative criticism” with a pinch of salt. “Time and experience teach you that. To be secure in your own skin and drown out the noise of hate and envy,” he says. That is why the moment he heard the script of Chup: The Revenge of the Artist, his upcoming film directed by renowned filmmaker R. Balki, he was immediately taken in. Chup, as its trailer suggests, is about a serial killer who murders film critics and leaves a star on their foreheads as his mark of revenge. Salmaan was blown by the originality of the idea and the depth of the narrative. The reason for saying yes to Chup was also personal in a way. There were moments when the amount of “filth” coming his way almost became too much to take. “It is strange... if you are doing well and you grow, there is a certain level of hate that grows with you. They told me you cannot act, you should not be an actor, just quit, and things like that,” says Salmaan. And so, this film, in a way, became a vehicle to vent his anger against the naysayers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But professionally, I have grown in ways even I could not have imagined,” he says. We are seated at a five-star hotel in suburban Mumbai and Salmaan, dressed in ripped denims and a printed black T-shirt, looks dapper. His strapping bodyguard, who is over six feet tall, remains standing behind Salmaan throughout the interview, once handing him a cup of coffee. “I am very grateful for the opportunities I got,” says Salmaan. “I think I have become much more secure in my own skin now. I was very insecure earlier, especially of this constant comparison of my craft with that of my father’s. So that used to affect me, but now having worked across industries with offers pouring in from some of the best filmmakers, I am more at ease. My acting has evolved, too. It is a little less inhibited.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Being the son of Malayalam superstar Mammootty is not easy. But father and son hardly exchange notes anymore. “His not saying much is very helpful for me,” Salmaan says with a chuckle. “I get to make my own choices and mistakes and learn from them. Sadly, even today when my films work, people think my father must have selected the script.” But there is a lot of difference in the way of functioning of father and son. Salmaan’s cinema is far removed from the high-on-action, blockbuster films of his father’s. “My kind of films are those that appeal to the youth,” he says. “But I am getting older, so I would want to tell the stories relevant to my time and age. I am also open to trying out different genres and roles. I have never chased being a superstar like Mammootty. From the beginning of my career people have been offering me these commercial, star vehicle films, but I knew I was not entitled to it. Whatever little stardom I have found has been by not chasing superstardom.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike Mammootty, who continues to be a sensation in Malayalam cinema, Salmaan carved out his niche by exploring multiple film industries and emerging as the champion of love stories. His latest, Telugu film Sita Ramam that released in August, is an example. In the character of Ram who is on a journey to find his Sita, Salmaan brings out a charming and poetic old-world romance. The film was loved by audiences and critics alike. But Salmaan says he will not repeat this genre anytime soon as he is itching to take up diverse roles that feed his hunger for experimentation. “I am so done with this chocolate boy image,” he says. “I hate that word... also, I am getting older now and am no more a boy. That term comes with a shelf life and I do not want to depend on it too much. It is better to quit while I am ahead.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of his films in recent times—Hey Sinamika, Vaan and Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal—have been rom-coms. This is also the reason why Chup is close to his heart as it offers a “break from monotony”. Salmaan made his Bollywood debut with Karwaan (2018), and followed it up with The Zoya Factor (2019), in which he played the captain of the Indian cricket team. Chup is his third Hindi film and second release this year. “To me, the most important aspect is the team I am working with. The Hindi film industry, I feel, is the most organised, their systems are a lot more international in terms of how you schedule things and the preps. The shoot schedules are handed to you beforehand, unlike in the south, where, at times, the dialogues are written on the sets. I would love for these things to change in the south.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As someone who is a keen observer and consumer of “good cinema”, Salmaan feels that the recent spate of failures in Bollywood—right from Samrat Prithviraj to Laal Singh Chaddha and Cuttputlli—is the result of an alarming disconnect of Bollywood filmmakers with their audiences. “The correction needs to happen and it will happen. Possibly the scripts are not up to the mark and the audience always knows what it wants to watch,” he says. “Also, Bollywood is a big industry and the time it takes to make a film here is much longer than in the south. In Malayalam, we shoot films very quickly—in 55 to 100 days or so. If one thing works, we immediately track the trend, and tweak and alter things. But here, in such a big industry, it takes time to adapt. A lot of the stuff you see releasing now are films that were planned before Covid-19. Post-pandemic, things have changed and tastes have evolved.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/done-with-chocolate-boy-image-dulquer-salmaan.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/done-with-chocolate-boy-image-dulquer-salmaan.html Sat Sep 17 11:31:26 IST 2022 anees-salim-returns-to-his-obsession-with-death-in-his-new-book <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/anees-salim-returns-to-his-obsession-with-death-in-his-new-book.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/17/68-Anees-Salim-new.jpg" /> <p>Latif, the protagonist of Anees Salim’s latest novel, works as a bellboy in Paradise Lodge, where people check in to die. “As they would go to a holy city to die, people came to Paradise Lodge to end their lives,” says Salim, who has worked for a while as a bellboy. It was as if the lodge was “ the closest point to the after-world”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A coming-of-age story, The Bellboy depicts how witnessing a crime changes the course of a 17-year-old boy’s life. Death is a dominant theme in the book, as in most of Salim’s books. Talking about his obsession with death, Salim says, “There are times when I have felt that life is not worth living. I wanted to get a book or at least a short story published before I died. Writing, for me, is part of an effort to get rid of anxiety.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The recent death of one of his classmates left Salim worried and baffled. She was always ahead of him. Even while walking to school, she would run ahead of him. She was one of the brightest students in his class, while Salim barely made it to double digits. The girl who seemed to have it all took her life a few weeks ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Life is unpredictable. So is writing. For some reason, Salim was not able to write for a while after finishing his book, The Small-Town Sea, in 2017. “It took me many months to get my rhythm back,” he says. However, he started writing The Bellboy the day he wrapped up The Odd Book of Baby Names, which has been long-listed for the JCB prize 2022.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Looking back, Salim cannot help pondering on the irony of dropping out of school at the age of 16 to become a writer. “I think that is the wisest decision I made in life,” he says. If he had not become a writer, he would probably have moved to the Middle East and worked in a supermarket. Or he would have opened a shop in his hometown in Kerala and become a failure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, success was not an accident. He started devouring books ever since he dropped out. He would read one book a week. As a teenager, he became completely invisible. He never bothered to confront gossiping neighbours and family members who wondered what he was reading. “I am sure they made fun of me behind my back. But I was cut off from the outside world. I would not attend any family function,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Salim won the Kendra Sahitya Akademy award for his novel, The Blind Lady’s Descendants, in 2018. He is now becoming increasingly experimental. In The Odd Book of Baby Names, he brings in voices of nine different kinds of characters. An ambitious and complicated work, it has won him critical acclaim. “I have written five decent books,” he says. “Now I can afford to be a bit experimental.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Bellboy</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Anees Salim</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Penguin Random House India</b></p> <p><i>Pages </i><b>232</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs599</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/anees-salim-returns-to-his-obsession-with-death-in-his-new-book.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/anees-salim-returns-to-his-obsession-with-death-in-his-new-book.html Sat Sep 17 11:15:56 IST 2022 why-laptops-with-foldable-screens-are-the-future <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/why-laptops-with-foldable-screens-are-the-future.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/17/71-Asus-Zenbook-17-Fold.jpg" /> <p>Foldable phones seem to have well and truly arrived with Samsung releasing two models every year and almost all major handset makers having either a model in the segment or plans for one. Motorola, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Microsoft and TCL have launched at least one foldable phone, while Apple is rumoured to be making one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, a similar shift might have already begun among laptops as well. Laptops have not changed much in their form in the past three decades. The only exception was the advent of the touchscreen, which triggered the ‘convertibles’ revolution a few years ago. These laptops with 360-degree hinges now account for a significant chunk of the sales. A foldable laptop was clearly the next logical step in the evolution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lenovo launched the world’s first foldable laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Fold, in 2020. The 13-inch device could be used like a large tablet when it is fully unfolded, or propped up on the easel stand to be used with a keyboard, or folded up 90 degrees with the bottom half as a touch keyboard. Though not exactly a fully baked product, especially because of the limitations of the software, it portended the future of laptops by illustrating the many use cases the form factor facilitated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That foldable laptops are here to stay became more evident than ever when Lenovo released the second iteration of the ThinkPad X1 Fold and Asus released its first foldable, the Zenbook 17 Fold, almost at the same time in August.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A foldable laptop has many advantages over the traditional clamshell ones. They are easier to carry and are more versatile. They are also excellent productivity tools, as they can be a book, a clamshell and a tablet at once.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, are they ready for consumers? They are almost there. At the moment, foldable laptops are very expensive, and the prices might not justify the features and convenience they offer. They are also constrained by the limitations of the operating system. Windows is not yet fully ready for foldable laptops. But it is only a matter of time, and foldables, without doubt, are the future of laptops.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/why-laptops-with-foldable-screens-are-the-future.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/17/why-laptops-with-foldable-screens-are-the-future.html Sat Sep 17 11:11:01 IST 2022 meet-the-man-who-fed-the-taliban-banana-chips <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/meet-the-man-who-fed-the-taliban-banana-chips.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/63-The-Taliban-arranged.jpg" /> <p>In a spacious room with an intricately patterned ceiling recline four or five armed members of the Taliban. They might be ruling Afghanistan with an iron hand, but right now they are relaxed and ready to try a Kerala snack—banana chips. YouTuber Maheen S. from Kerala passes around a bowl. The men take a chip each, taste it and grin widely. They all give it a thumbs-up. The chips have passed the test, and so has Maheen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maheen’s video of him feeding the Taliban banana chips has clocked more than nine lakh views; it is one of his most popular ones. “Wherever I go, I promote Kerala,” he says. “Most of the people outside India only know about bigger cities like Mumbai. So I explain to them the culture and people of Kerala.” He is a college dropout, and his YouTube channel, ‘Hitchhiking Nomad’, has over five lakh subscribers. Maheen got hooked to travelling after reading travelogues as a child. Now 22, he has been hitting the road for three years. In school, he would take KSRTC buses to places that caught his fancy. Today, he has progressed to hitching rides in cars and trucks in foreign countries like Nepal, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. And now, Afghanistan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I always wanted to visit Afghanistan and west Africa,” says Maheen, who has always been attracted to conflict zones. “I thought I would be proud of having visited them when I looked back at the age of 40 or 50.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Initially, he had not planned to visit Afghanistan, but was swayed by the description of the country by a Russian friend he met in Uzbekistan. He then applied for a visa at the Afghan embassy there and crossed the “barren and isolated” Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. But once there, he was in for a few surprises.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“When I saw the Taliban soldiers with guns for the first time, my heart raced,” he says. “I remembered all that I had read about them in the media. To my surprise, they told the taxi driver to charge me less at the border as I was a mehmaan (guest) from India. I got the impression that many of the locals as well as the Taliban like India.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The biggest challenge for Maheen was taking videos in public places. Though he was warned multiple times, he managed to do his job. Dressed in traditional attire and with the help of a few Afghan friends from college, Maheen visited all the popular tourist spots, and also got a chance to observe civilian life one year after the Taliban takeover of the country. Through an 18-part series on Afghanistan, he took the viewers to interesting sites like the Band-E-Amir lake and the Bamyan valley, where one can find the famous Buddhas of Bamyan. He interacted with university students, experienced night life in Kabul and immersed himself in Eid celebrations there. In other videos, he is seen interacting with the Taliban, holding their guns and sharing their meals. He attests to the hospitality of the Taliban, who gave him free access to locations, arranged his stay and even saved him from a pack of street dogs once.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He says there is a big distinction between the Taliban members from the mountains and the more educated ones from urban areas. While some loved watching his TikTok videos, others called them “un-Islamic”. He has also faced criticism on social media for closely interacting with the Taliban.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I was called a spy of the Taliban and accused of working for them,” he says. “Some said I was being funded by them. Some of my stories on Instagram were also being reported. But I don’t take all that seriously.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the Taliban and he have not exactly been bosom friends. His worst experience was in Kabul, when he visited the Pakistan embassy, which was shut then. The videos he recorded of it got him arrested.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Since the Taliban were anticipating an attack from the Islamic State they were on high alert,” he says. “They felt I was a suspect and took me blindfolded to an unknown location. I was splashed with water and even slapped. I was so scared that I started crying. I spent around eight hours inside the prison. An intelligence officer of the Taliban interrogated me, but he treated me politely after I told him about my hosts who were also connected with the Taliban.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the Taliban were confirming his identity, Maheen was shifted to another cell with an Australian inmate. “We interacted for a bit. He seemed knowledgeable about politics and geography. He was hoping his government would intervene to secure his release,” he says. Maheen was let off soon, but the bitterness stayed on. He only told his mother about what he underwent after leaving Afghanistan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maheen claims to be the only earning member of his family and added that the revenue generated through his travel videos helps support them financially.</p> <p><br> “My travel is not at all expensive,” he says, adding that he is not scared of the risks involved. He wants to visit 100 countries in the next five years. And, of course, promote Kerala. If he can make the Taliban appreciate banana chips, then nothing seems impossible.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/meet-the-man-who-fed-the-taliban-banana-chips.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/meet-the-man-who-fed-the-taliban-banana-chips.html Sat Sep 10 12:07:11 IST 2022 author-amish-says-its-one-of-the-most-exciting-times-in-centuries-to-be-born-an-indian <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/author-amish-says-its-one-of-the-most-exciting-times-in-centuries-to-be-born-an-indian.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/66-Amish-Tripathi.jpg" /> <p>Amish Tripathi, 48, is returning with the final book of his Ram Chandra series—<i>War of Lanka</i>—timed for the Dussehra-Diwali season. The author, who shot to fame by recreating Lord Shiva as a human who comes to the plains of Meluha, has since rearranged the Indian mythological space. He has made his own timelines, interpreted characters in refreshing ways and spun fantastic narratives. Who can forget his sci-fi take on <i>somaras? </i><br> In the UK, he is called the Indian Tolkien. An Indian Paulo Coelho. But Amish is no <i>desi</i>&nbsp;adaptation of anyone else, even though he does not pretend to be the original in a space where he is a rock-star. What he agrees is that the “Marvel-like universe” he created of mythological India, in which every story is connected through prequels and sequels, is capitvating and has ensured his success as the fastest-selling author in Indian publishing history.<br> Speaking with THE WEEK from London, where he is now director, Nehru Centre, Amish takes this correspondent on a racy time travel through India, pausing every now and then to elaborate on an ancient text or to pick up an economic document to emphasise a point. Amish's world is between the pages of books, not just his. And, he is only too happy to pull others around him into the land of words. Excerpts:<br> </p> <p><b>In your universe, Ram predates Shiva by 1,500 years. How did you arrive at this time sequence?</b><br> By tradition, Shiva is ‘Anadi’<i>—</i>he has no beginning or end. Only Lord Shiva knows what the truth is. For my stories, I have used an interpretation from the Rig Veda—the Hymn of Keshan (one with long hair). Any Shiva <i>bhakt</i>&nbsp;will immediately identify the hymn with Lord Shiva. It says Keshan's fame is renowned from the eastern sea to the western one. That he walked with the sky as his clothes. That he danced. The last lines are interesting. They say Keshan sat and drank poison with Lord Rudra. My interpretation is that it could be that Rudra was the Mahadev before Ram, and Shiva the Mahadev after Ram. My aim is to put an interpretation into what appears contradictory in our ancient texts. &nbsp;<br> </p> <p><b>When reinterpreting stories of the past, there is a risk. The line between getting a fantastic response and stoking ire is a fine one, isn't it?</b><br> In India, if you do an interpretation with respect, then there is no cause for any controversy. We are among the last surviving ‘pagan’ cultures, the only pre-Bronze age culture still alive. Unlike Abrahamic religions, which have a concept of blasphemy and of violence as a response to words, pagan religions rarely had that. There is no word for blasphemy in Vedic Sanskrit.<br> For anyone who reads my books—whether they like them or not— one thing is obvious: I have written them with devotion. I am a proud Hindu, which doesn't mean I hate other religions. But I write with pride and respect [about my faith]. There have been many reinterpretations; I am not the first. The problem arises when you attempt to denigrate… then, perhaps, people can react negatively. &nbsp;<br> </p> <p><b>In your final book in the Ram Chandra series, there will be three protagonists. We all know the Ramayan tale. How different can your story be?</b><br> (Laughs). You have to wait for the book.<br> You are right, they are all ‘protagonists’, because the word ‘hero' is a western concept. The original Valmiki Ramayan and even Ramanand Sagar's teleseries elaborated on Raavan's strengths. Our dharmic perspective was quite nuanced; it was not black and white, which is an Abrahamic concept. Our perspective focuses on how individuals react to blessings or blows of faith. Lord Ram, Sita and Raavan all suffered; how they reacted to these situations defined them. You can react with anger and unfocused hatred, which can make your situation worse, or you can react to the suffering and grief with nobility. The approach of our ancestors was that the only thing in our hands is our actions, so learn from others and apply those learnings to our lives.<br> </p> <p><b>After the Ramayan, will it be the Mahabharat next? </b><br> I am not sure which story I will pick up first. I believe Lord Shiva will pick it for me. Yes, there is a story on the Mahabharat. There is also one set in modern-day London, which has elements of gaming and time travel. There is an idea on ancient Egypt, too.<br> </p> <p><b>Being an Amish book, I assume even these stories will go back to ancient India. </b><br> In any of my works, there will always be a connection to India and its culture. I believe Indian culture has a lot to offer the world and it can help find answers to many questions troubling societies and cultures today. For example, Indian culture has answer to this war between traditions and liberalism.<br> Living in London, I see a big space for liberalism. But I feel they are atomising society by attacking and destroying their major traditions. There is loneliness and a sense of rootlessness. &nbsp;<br> On the other extreme, in some eastern cultures, there is little individual space, even though the sense of community is strong. There is no space for women's rights, LGBT rights, for instance. In some Middle East cultures, gays and lesbians are supposed to be legally killed.<br> Ancient Indian culture has the answer to this balance. &nbsp;You can have community and family, and yet have space for personal rights. Our ancients were like that.<br> I am not saying there are not things we should not learn from others. There is a lovely line in the Rig Veda, which says, “Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions”. But my stories are about India.<br> </p> <p><b>You started the Immortal Writers' Centre to help with your books. How is the experiment working? </b><br> I have so many stories to tell, that if I don't tell them all now, I will take them to the cremation pyre. Then I will have to return to tell them, and I don't want to do that.<br> So though I am a control freak, I have started this writers' centre for my historical works, which spans India over the last 1,000 years. I give the story outline, then tell the writers to research and expand the manuscript. Then, I work on the final manuscript. It has worked well.<br> In India, I may be the only one, but abroad, the practice is common. Wilbur Smith did it. Some authors do it well, some don't. It works when the author is engaged with the manuscript and doesn't just put his name on someone else's work.<br> </p> <p><b>How is the diplomat life treating you?</b><br> It is a very different experience. It is the first time I am living outside India. It is the first time I am working in government. And in all this, I also lived through the pandemic. Many cultural centres made the mistake of waiting out the pandemic. We, at the Nehru Centre, didn't. The team was quick to get aggressive in the online space. When we reopened physically nine months ago, our online reach brought in more contacts to our events. My job is to take the Indian narrative abroad. A key thing we want to ensure is that the Nehru Centre is not a place where Indians are talking to Indians. It should be a cultural outpost.<br> </p> <p><b>Among contemporary authors, whose works do you find engaging?</b><br> I read too much to name an author or two. If only one author or book impresses you, it means you haven't read enough. So, I will only talk of books I have read in the recent past.<br> I am reading J. Sai Deepak's <i>India, Bharat and Pakistan: The Constitutional Journey of a Sandwiched Civilisation</i>. He is a brilliant thinker.<br> I recommend Sandhya and Meenakshi Jain's four-volume <i>The India They Saw</i>. The volumes are translations of travelogues on India over time, from the [fifth] century BC onwards.<br> I read Niall Ferguson's <i>Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World</i>. I always say, read people whose views you may not agree with completely; it gives you different perspectives. Ferguson is a defender of the British Raj; I disagree [with him] entirely. But his book is brilliant. It tells what the British did right. At the peak of their power, there were more than a hundred thousand British in India ruling over 300 million people. You cannot deny their remarkable capability.<br> </p> <p><b>Corporate life, author, diplomat. What next?</b><br> I have no idea. Life is what happens when you plan for other things. Career-wise, it has been very good, one year better than the previous. My personal life has been very difficult in the last few years. It is the way life goes.<br> </p> <p><b>You focus on India's past. Doesn't today's India interest you? </b><br> I am thinking of something for the next Republic Day, let me see.<br> Today's India is a fascinating story. Our GDP just crossed that of the UK. The last time this happened was 150 years ago. Most economists say that on a purchasing power parity issue, India will probably cross most European countries in 20 years. The last time this happened was 900 years ago.<br> Our peak economically was the ninth or tenth century (economist Angus Maddison's data). From the 11th century onwards, we were in slow decline; from the 18th century, in rapid decline, which continued even after 1947, right up to 1991. Our lowest point was the late 1980s to early 1990s. We started turning after that.<br> Around 2008, we were in the tenth or 11th position in the world in terms of GDP. So what we lost to the British over 150 years, we recovered in around a decade. What we lost in 900 years, we will make up in the next 25. Only China has recovered at this pace.<br> This can be both exciting and troubling [for the world]. How we manage the next 25 years is critical. A country of this scale is returning after many centuries. How will we impact the world? It is one of the most exciting times in centuries to be born an Indian.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WAR OF LANKA</b></p> <p><i>Author: </i><b>Amish</b></p> <p><i>Publisher:</i> <b>HarperCollins India</b></p> <p><i>Pages:</i> <b>500;</b> <i>price:</i> <b>Rss499</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/author-amish-says-its-one-of-the-most-exciting-times-in-centuries-to-be-born-an-indian.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/author-amish-says-its-one-of-the-most-exciting-times-in-centuries-to-be-born-an-indian.html Sun Sep 11 11:32:31 IST 2022 the-famous-five-books-are-getting-a-multicultural-makeover <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-famous-five-books-are-getting-a-multicultural-makeover.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/68-Sufiya-Ahmed.jpg" /> <p>Thanks to Enid Blyton, I travelled to all sorts of imaginary places in my childhood—enchanted forests with pixies and fairies; animal farms and bedrooms where toys came alive at night; Malory Towers, the castle-like boarding school of lacrosse games, cliff-top rescues and midnight feasts…. Each of Blyton’s book series serenaded different phases of my life, from the adventures of Brer Rabbit, which my mother read to me when I was little more than a toddler, to the Noddy series, which helped lessen my loneliness when I first joined boarding school in the third standard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then there was the Famous Five—how I envied Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy their adventures. Here I lived my insipid life of math and science classes, while they traipsed off to Kirrin Island each summer—to a world of ruined castles, hidden treasures, circling jackdaws and tall glasses of ginger-beer. A world that was foreign to me—full of strange words like ‘Golly’ and ‘Buck up’—and yet more familiar than my own world. After all, I spent much of my childhood in it, ribbing Dick for his prodigious appetite, kicking Anne under the table for her gaffes and feeding Timmy crumbs of scones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For thousands of children all over the world, the Famous Five books were an antidote to their loneliness. That is why British-Indian children’s writer Sufiya Ahmed had no easy task recreating the series for a modern audience. An entire generation’s childhood was pinned on Blyton’s books and now, Ahmed was assuming the mantle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She was commissioned by Hachette, who owns the rights to Blyton’s books, to write a four-part ‘Famous Five colour short stories’ series, two of which are already out. “Whether it is Famous Five, the Secret Seven or the girls at Malory Towers, these are beloved characters and I am just making the setting for their adventures more reflective of the world that young readers live in, without changing the essence of their appeal,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the books, she adds a cast of secondary characters. People of colour who live in Kirrin village are depicted in the illustrations. The third book, Five and the Message in a Bottle, includes a police chief of Nigerian heritage. A woman and a girl in hijab are also featured in background images as village residents. In the second book, Five and the Runaway Dog, Simi is a young girl of South Asian heritage the five try to help. Her family has just opened a bakery that sells Indian sweetmeats which are hungrily sampled by the five. “This is all reflective of modern Britain,” says Ahmed. “A young reader sees the Britain they are familiar with, one that is multicultural and inclusive.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Ahmed, a winner of the Redbridge Children’s Book Award, this desire to give voice to South Asian characters has resulted in two books with South Asian heroines—My Story: Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and My Story: Noor-Un-Nissa Inayat Khan. “The stories of Noor and Sophia are about our shared history and I feel they can add to the sense of belonging for British South Asians to our home country,” says Ahmed, whose latest book, Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy, released on August 4. Although she was born in Gujarat, she moved to London at the age of four. A voracious reader, Ahmed devoured the books in her library, especially those by Blyton and Roald Dahl, both of whom played a seminal part in her becoming a children’s book writer. Her debut, Secrets of the Henna Girl, was published by Puffin Books in 2012.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, unlike narrating the stories of South Asian heroines, flavouring the Famous Five with an oriental touch is a different ballgame altogether. Ahmed is treading on sacred ground. Next to Shakespeare and Agatha Christie, Blyton is the third most translated author in the world. In Britain, she is the seventh most borrowed author from public libraries. Blyton’s grip on a child’s imagination was vice-like. She was the enchantress who could rustle up a delicious treacle pudding for little girls on distant shores who had no idea what a treacle pudding was. But knew it must be good because four British children loved it. And a madcap dog wagged his tail at its mention.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-famous-five-books-are-getting-a-multicultural-makeover.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-famous-five-books-are-getting-a-multicultural-makeover.html Sun Sep 11 11:29:06 IST 2022 greener-than-green <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/greener-than-green.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/69-Smoked-Salmon-and-Avocado-Salad-new.jpg" /> <p>Tulips, maple or mother-in-law’s tongue, there are several indoor plants that can project a restaurant’s commitment to green, mindful eating. We talk a lot about sourcing, sustainability, seasonal produce and farm-to-table meals. What if restaurants start growing their own greens next to the seated diners? A hydroponic set-up makes it look possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hydroponic farming refers to a way of growing crops without using soil. A temperature-controlled environment lets the plants grow in nutrient-rich water. Some restaurants have begun growing greens the hydroponic way within their premises. A brand new ‘eco-contemporary’ cafe, Fig at Malcha, in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi, might as well consider including a hydroponic set-up within their plush-white interiors, which blends a Japanese design aesthetic with a Nordic lifestyle. Their healthy, flavourful and plant-forward menu has a section dedicated entirely to ‘hydroponic salads’, with several ingredients drawn from their specialised farms in Delhi-NCR and Uttarakhand. Think wilted spinach, carrots and cashew cream in their Avocado Earth Bowl, or wild arugula and charred tomatoes in their Sicilian Burrata Salad.&nbsp;The freshness of the Pea &amp; Truffle Soup recalls the sensory experience of cracking open pea pods and the rice paper rolls stretch around veggies and salmon like a delicate sheath of glass.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Eco-contemporary is not really a spin on what already exists. I think it is more about intent. We don’t promote or push any agenda like veganism. If you look at our menu, it pretty much has everything. Sustainability is brought in by researching and partnering with the right kind of people,” says Manish Yadav, founder of Fig. He already runs Fig at Museo, inside a camera museum in Gurugram. The greens in his new outpost at Malcha Marg, grown through hydroponics, are definitely crisper. “Their shelf life is also a couple of days longer than normal, organic produce,” says Yadav. “The challenge is that there are very few hydroponic farms. And even these farms cannot meet demands for bulk orders.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The high ceilings with an exposed industrial look also include artworks by emerging and established artists in the mezzanine. Enough space for some hydroponic flora to bloom.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/greener-than-green.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/greener-than-green.html Mon Sep 12 13:33:26 IST 2022 fabulous-lives-of-bollywood-wives-from-fab-to-drab <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/fabulous-lives-of-bollywood-wives-from-fab-to-drab.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/70-Maheep-Kapoor.jpg" /> <p>As Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives returns for a second season, two years after the first, one might recall its producer Karan Johar’s caustic jibe at the four leading ladies in the seventh episode of season 1: “Why should I watch a show about four pre-menopausal women who don’t have jobs?” he asks. “Don’t watch it. Get lost! This is what we are,” they reply. This ‘we-don’t-care-a-damn’ attitude of the four—Neelam Kothari Soni, Seema Sajdeh, Maheep Kapoor and Bhavana Pandey—continues well into the Netflix show’s second season.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the first season focused almost entirely on the women themselves with a full-blown view into their uber-luxurious lives filled with first-world problems, the current season, it seems, has nothing much to add. And so, what follows is an onslaught of high-voltage cameos by anyone and everyone who has and was ever known to Bollywood, with the aim to add spice and drama in an otherwise haphazardly pieced together season that lacks a focused arc and intention. So, there are cameos by celebs like Ranveer Singh, Malaika Arora and her son, Gauri Khan and star kids including Shanaya Kapoor and Ananya Panday. Unlike the first season, these star pop-ups seem out of place and context. By the end of the series, the fabulous lives look rather tiresome, confused and purposeless.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But then again, their cheesy one-liners, extensive shopping lists, mutual bickering, sighs and squeals, anti-ageing tips and dumb antics make the show watchable and interesting, albeit in parts. Like, Seema thinks ‘antelope’ is the name of a person during a safari in Udaipur, while Maheep admits she would do anything for money, including “renting out her husband Sanjay”. At all times, all four women crave to add meaning and purpose to their lives, to carve an identity of their own. There is plenty of publicity involved, with the show plugging everybody and everything that appears in it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the drawbacks, you will binge-watch the show. For, it is a guilt trip of the petty, perverse kind.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/fabulous-lives-of-bollywood-wives-from-fab-to-drab.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/fabulous-lives-of-bollywood-wives-from-fab-to-drab.html Sun Sep 11 11:23:28 IST 2022 the-goddesses-of-a-new-exhibition-are-much-more-than-relics-of-the-past <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-goddesses-of-a-new-exhibition-are-much-more-than-relics-of-the-past.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/10/70-A-terracotta-work-by-Rajat-Ghosh-new.jpg" /> <p>The feminine and the feminist are two sides of the same coin in ‘Women and Deities’, an exhibition of 156 artworks, including 10 contemporary ones, currently on at the Bihar Museum. Whether it is the sculpture of a dancing girl belonging to the Mauryan period, or a 6th century stone work of a woman seated with a baby on her left thigh—they exude power and agency. The figurines, mostly in stone, terracotta and bronze, are mesmerising not just as artworks, but as representations of the times these women lived in. It is interesting to see the evolution of art through history, says Dr Alka Pande, renowned art historian and chief curator of the exhibition. The works on display are different and yet similar in many ways. “The difference begins with the material,” says Pande. “The terracotta works were done by hand, while those in bronze are more stylised. Contemporary works portray creative imagination. There is very little realism in those works.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The museum, set up in 2015, has a rich collection of artefacts and paintings. A bewitching yakshi, believed to be around 2,300 years old, is one of the major attractions. Carved out of a single piece of sandstone, the sculpture was discovered at Didarganj in Patna in 1917. It was half buried in the mud on the banks of the river Ganga, and villagers were using its base as a washing stone. The artefacts span 4 lakh years of human history, says Anjani Kumar Singh, director general of the museum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exhibits of ‘Women and Deities’ bear testimony to the prominent space that women have always occupied in society. They did not just exist, they reigned. The exhibition will be on till October 7.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-goddesses-of-a-new-exhibition-are-much-more-than-relics-of-the-past.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/10/the-goddesses-of-a-new-exhibition-are-much-more-than-relics-of-the-past.html Sat Sep 10 11:34:16 IST 2022 shuruaat-debut-album-of-berklee-indian-ensemble-is-striking-for-its-sheer-range <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/shuruaat-debut-album-of-berklee-indian-ensemble-is-striking-for-its-sheer-range.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/3/63-Grammy-winner-Vijay-Prakash.jpg" /> <p>The song ‘Arz-E-Niyaz’ from the Berklee Indian Ensemble’s 10-song debut album, Shuruaat, is a moving track composed by sarod player and composer Sashank Navalady, with lyrics inspired by a poem of the 19th century Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. ‘Arz-E-Niyaz’ was also the first original song in Shuruaat to be sung by a renowned artist—the Grammy-winning vocalist and composer, Vijay Prakash. The song was recorded during Prakash’s artist residency at the Berklee College of Music in 2015.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We were rehearsing the song on our own, when our tabla player M.T. Aditya Srinivasan came to me during the lunch break,” says Annette Philip, the Indian musician who founded the BIE in 2011, when she was given a “blank slate” as a young faculty member at Berkeley to start a project of her liking. “He said to me, ‘This song is really beautiful. Do you think Vijay Prakash ji would consider singing it?’ We [pitched it] to Sashank and he got very excited. We thought, ‘Let’s just ask him. If you don’t ask, you can’t open any doors.’ He was so thrilled to do it and spent so much time rehearsing the song with Sashank.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is this sense of adventure—the philosophy of “without asking, no doors will be opened”—that defines the BIE. Philip calls it their “slightly rebellious, slightly rogue” attitude. They are willing to take risks because they are not afraid of failure. If an idea bombs, they simply move on to the next one. Along with the appeal of their exuberant music, herein lies the clue to their decade-long longevity: they don’t take themselves too seriously.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There is a notion that you can only achieve high quality in any field if it is competitive,” says Philip. “I disagree. I feel you can achieve a very high quality product collaboratively—with kindness, integrity and without cutting someone else down. The vibe that people get from our videos is of us having fun and enjoying each other. You can’t manufacture that.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This sense of complete abandon to music made the BIE’s 2014 interpretation of A.R. Rahman’s ‘Jiya Jale’ go viral on YouTube. It has got nearly 53 million views so far. In many ways, ‘Jiya Jale’ was the BIE’s musical “tipping point”. Since then, their music videos have racked up millions of views. The college ensemble transitioned into a 11-member professional band in 2021, which today, hosts concerts and workshops, and headlines international festivals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Coming to Berklee in 2012, the BIE always stood out to me with their sound and overall vibe; it was always very refreshing to listen to them,” says Aleif Hamdan, an Indonesian guitarist/composer and long-time member of the group. “The melodies, phrasing, and rhythm—I felt it all had a serious level of depth. It was like an alternate world from all the other styles of music I was learning at Berklee, and I could not resist being intrigued. So, in 2013, I auditioned, and I have been a part of the group ever since.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Shuruaat, the BIE is ready for the next phase of their evolution. The album, which released in July, features four original compositions alongside covers of songs for which they have collaborated with renowned musicians like Prakash, Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal. It includes the work of 98 musicians from 39 countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What strikes you about the 10 songs in Shuruaat is their sheer range. There are singles in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu and scat syllables. Musically, there are Sufi, Carnatic, progressive rock, jazz and Gospel influences. This is, of course, the BIE’s raison d’etre—to create a “global Indian sound which welcomes cultural influences from around the world”. And just as important as the music is the message that they want to convey through each song. So, their original composition ‘Pinha’—based on a ghazal written by the late poet Fatima Wasia Jaisi—means “hidden within”, and is a celebration of the immense potential of the human spirit. ‘Jaago Piya’, another haunting track, was written by the BIE’s first Bangladeshi member, Armeen Musa, with Philip. The Bengali lyrics stress the need to live in the moment, and to never let the hope within you flicker.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Whether it is an original or an interpretation, the first thing we look at is what is the story,” says Philip. “Who are we as story tellers? If it is an original, we ask the composer, ‘What are you thinking, what are you envisioning, what is your message and what is the context? If that is the context for you as someone from Switzerland or Germany, what is the context for me as an Indian, or someone else as an Israeli, and how does that translate musically?’ Even before forming the lyrics, we try to find this. Because, for us, music is not just an auditory language; it is a visual and sensual language. The visual aspect, as well as the memories and the cultural aspects, are helpful in deciding the arrangement. During rehearsals, often the mistakes we make turn out to be gifts, because it is from something unexpected that a great idea comes.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Philip says, it is not the music per se that is important. It is how the music makes you feel. In the case of Shuruaat, you are left with a sense of wistfulness—for a utopia that only music can make you believe might one day exist.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/shuruaat-debut-album-of-berklee-indian-ensemble-is-striking-for-its-sheer-range.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/shuruaat-debut-album-of-berklee-indian-ensemble-is-striking-for-its-sheer-range.html Sat Sep 03 12:01:23 IST 2022 the-adventures-of-a-wandering-rickshaw-driver-jothi-viknesh <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/the-adventures-of-a-wandering-rickshaw-driver-jothi-viknesh.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/3/66-Jothi-Viknesh.jpg" /> <p>Usually, autorickshaw rides are nothing but a mundane form of commute from point A to point B. Not so for Jothi Viknesh. No one ever gave a more glamorous makeover to the humble autorickshaw than Viknesh, 32, whose electric three-wheeler has taken him on a mighty spin around the country. Starting from Bengaluru on December 5, last year, he has covered 17,000km across 20 states. Named after his hope of creating a new world record for the longest journey in an electric autorickshaw—for which he has to cover another 2,000km—the vehicle, HOPE, is fuelled by Viknesh’s energy and enthusiasm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In July, the flashy rickshaw and its driver made it to the Khardung La Pass (18,380ft above sea level) in Leh—which was a test of endurance for both the man and the machine. But it is the message that resonates stronger—“Pollution free India”—something the fitness trainer and Zumba instructor firmly believes in. Viknesh has been documenting his adventure on the YouTube channel ‘India on 3 wheels’, the same way he did for his bike trip in 2016 and another eight-month-long trip documenting the various folk art forms and festivals in Karnataka.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His travel hacks help him cut costs substantially. “I hold free workshops for people whose voluntary contributions help fund my travel,” says Viknesh. “Last time, I had only Rs20,000 with me. I raised Rs6.5 lakh during the [Karnataka] trip. This time, too, I have been holding workshops at schools and showing children the art forms I have documented. I teach them culture through dance. People keep supporting me and inviting me to their homes for meals.” He uses Google Maps to find free stay, food and discounts. The travel groups that he is part of on Facebook volunteer to host and help him in various ways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Originally from Tamil Nadu, Viknesh moved around a lot in his childhood as his father worked in the Central Police. While his parents stay in Chennai, he moved to Bengaluru 12 years ago to pursue his passion for fitness and dance, even as he completed his post-graduation in immunology and microbiology. While his father disapproves of his chosen profession, his mother has been his staunchest supporter and occasional travel companion. “She accompanied me for a week from Vizag to Siliguri on a car trip,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With electric vehicles being the new kid on the block, one of the biggest challenges is to find charging points, says Viknesh. Another one is the difficulty of navigating tough terrains. “I took up the challenge as I have always been intrigued by people who travelled 30 to 40 years ago without the aid of any infrastructure or technology,” he says. “I handicapped myself with this electric auto. In eight months, I have not even once charged it at a designated charging station. I charged it at homes, restaurants, petrol pumps and even paan shops. All you need is a three pin (16 amps) to charge it. I learnt to ask people for help.” Once in the northeast, he recalls plugging it in the generator of a tunnel. It takes four hours to charge the rickshaw, which has a mileage of 120km to 130km on the plains and 70km to 80km on the mountains. “People understand when I ask for food and water,” he says. “But when I ask for a charging point, they assume it is for my mobile phone and are reluctant when I reveal it is for my rickshaw. Sometimes I have to go to 30 different places before someone agrees to let me charge.” So far, the rickshaw has survived some dangerous natural calamities like the floods in Assam, snowstorms in Arunachal Pradesh, an earthquake in Tripura and a landslide in Kargil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Travelling light is key, says Viknesh, who only carries 10 to 15 sets of warm clothes, boots, shoes, a tent, a sleeping bag, an emergency stove, action cameras, a drone and an Insta360 camera. Staying fit has also been a challenge. In the last eight months, he has been sick twice with an upset stomach, twice with fever and once suffered a slipped disc in Siliguri. He had to stay back for a week to undergo physiotherapy and electrotherapy. The doctor advised him against travelling by rickshaw, but he quietly set off to Kashmir the following morning. “The wrong food can make you sick,” he says. “So, I usually prefer to eat at homes. I avoid eating in smaller and local eateries that might not be hygienic. I carry peanut butter and buy fresh bread, which is a safe bet.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He has also had some strange experiences. “[When I fell sick in Nagaland] a host told me I should have come the previous day as he could have treated me with dog meat,” he says with a laugh. “I told him I was a dog lover and could not imagine eating a dog.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once, he walked 15km to reach the headhunters’ village in Nagaland, as there was no motorable road. The villagers mistook him for a drug dealer. Another time, militants in Nagaland suspected he was a spy and held him at gunpoint. He had to show them his travel videos. “I convinced them that no spy would come in a flashy auto like mine,” he says. To bond with the locals, he carries a guitar with him even though he does not play. “I give it to those who can play it and sing,” he says. When he is not riding, he watches web series on OTT platforms, catches up on news or “chills like how the locals chill”. “What I have learnt is that every region and class in India has a different way of life,” he says. “I learnt, for instance, that people in the northeast go fishing only once in six months, as they store the catch for a long time. I also learnt about different farming methods and crop patterns.” He might be travel weary and weatherbeaten, but he is determined to spread positivity wherever he goes. His ‘HOPE’ is taking him far and wide.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/the-adventures-of-a-wandering-rickshaw-driver-jothi-viknesh.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/the-adventures-of-a-wandering-rickshaw-driver-jothi-viknesh.html Sat Sep 03 12:31:42 IST 2022 filmmaker-reena-mohan-left-the-obsession-with-literal-truth-long-back <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/filmmaker-reena-mohan-left-the-obsession-with-literal-truth-long-back.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/3/69-Reema-Mohan-new.jpg" /> <p>When Reena Mohan joined the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, there were just five women on the campus. “Oh, you took a boy’s seat; you will get married and leave editing,” she often heard the comment. Mohan never left editing and never stopped learning cinema.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bombay film industry did not attract her, but documentary filmmaking did. As part of her final-year project, she made a documentary on a&nbsp;Warli painter.&nbsp;That work viewed the subject “from a distance”, and was quite unlike her later works.</p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>After graduating from FTII in 1982, Mohan joined the Centre for Development of Instructional Technology in Delhi. Those days allowed her to work with communities at the grassroots, especially women. Then came an offer from filmmaker Mani Kaul to edit his Maati Manas (1984). While working on it, she earned a better understanding of the “rhythm and energy” within a shot, and where to cut and where not to. The learning experience continued while working with Renu Saluja—a pioneer among women film editors—on Vinod Chopra’s Khamosh (1986).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a career spanning four decades, Mohan directed 10 documentaries and edited more than 50. She edited a few feature films and television series as well. Mohan won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th edition of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram on August 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was while researching for an article on silent cinema that Mohan met Kamlabai Gokhale, one of the earliest woman actors in India. “We spent the day with her at Pune; we played cards, she was cheating and was very funny,” remembers Mohan. “While coming back, one of my friends said that I should make a documentary film on her. I was hesitant. Then she said: ‘She is so charming; she is unlike an old person. You cannot capture that in text, it has to be a film.” And, that is how Mohan decided to don the cap of a director, and Kamlabai—who was part of Dadasaheb Phalke’s second film, Mohini Bhasmasur (1913)—inspired her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After the first two schedules of the shoot, Mohan made a rough cut of the film and showed it to some friends. “But they said it was dull and boring,” she says. “ I realised that Kamlabai was cracking all those jokes when the camera was off. So, I went back to shoot with her again. And this time, the camera was kept running when she was cracking jokes or teasing us.” The documentary was awarded the National Film Award for the Best First Film of a Director in 1992.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While working on critically acclaimed documentaries like Skin Deep (1998)—which explored body image and self-identity—and On An Express Highway (2003)—which was on the life of a businesswoman who would become a Jain monk—Mohan had to think out of the box as in both the documentaries she faced a situation where her subjects refused to be on camera. But the challenge allowed her to experiment with the form.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Documentary is one form where people expect to see the ‘truth’. However, Mohan left that obsession with ‘literal truth’ a long time ago. She knows that what she films is just an interpretation, a perspective, of her subjects, and she is just being true to that.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/filmmaker-reena-mohan-left-the-obsession-with-literal-truth-long-back.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/filmmaker-reena-mohan-left-the-obsession-with-literal-truth-long-back.html Wed Sep 07 11:13:17 IST 2022 krishna-the-7th-sense-review-forces-the-reader-to-pause-and-think <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/krishna-the-7th-sense-review-forces-the-reader-to-pause-and-think.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/3/70-Krishna-new.jpg" /> <p>For those spiritually inclined, Krishna: The 7th Sense offers a short course on the God of love, his time on earth, and how lessons from his life can lift the fog of the modern, muddled mind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Debutant novelist Debashis Chatterjee, who headed IIM Kozhikode for many years, marries the clarity of a manager’s mind with the mysticism of a spiritual truth-seeker. The book follows the journey of Keshav, Neel and Kaya, and their friends from a B-school in Lucknow to a “be” school in Rishikesh. Keshav teaches a class on LOVE (Leadership of Voluntary Enterprises), and is the bringer of magic to the world of spreadsheets and surveys. His students, including Neel and Kaya, run the gamut of emotions college-goers do, finding learning and some solace in the teachings of Krishna.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book has three threads: Stories from the life of Krishna, lessons from said stories, and the students’ days at the Indus business school. Chatterjee handholds the reader through the lives of the protagonists, switching from their past to the present and back, placing their troubles and triumphs within a larger spiritual context.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first thread, capturing Krishna’s life with wisdom and tenderness, is the most enjoyable of the three. And, of that, Krishna’s relationship with Radha evokes the most genuine feeling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The various shades of love—from paternal to romantic—are explored through tales, and Keshav’s often Sadhguru-like explanations keep his listeners hooked. The prose is often poetic, and, when so, rooted in nature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reading Krishna is not an exercise in passivity; it forces the reader to pause and think. It is a treatise on love, asking fundamental questions of identity and faith, and answering them with warmth and insight.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Krishna: The 7th Sense</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Debashis Chatterjee</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Rupa Publications</b></p> <p><i>Pages</i> <b>256</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs695</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/krishna-the-7th-sense-review-forces-the-reader-to-pause-and-think.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/krishna-the-7th-sense-review-forces-the-reader-to-pause-and-think.html Sat Sep 03 11:29:16 IST 2022 how-two-women-brought-alive-faiz-ahmed-faizs-iconic-poem-on-partition <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/how-two-women-brought-alive-faiz-ahmed-faizs-iconic-poem-on-partition.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/9/3/70Vasundhara-Gupta-and-Amira-Gill-new.jpg" /> <p>“This light, smeared and spotted, this night-bitten dawn. This isn’t surely the dawn we waited for so eagerly,” goes the opening lines of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem, Subh-e-Azadi (translated by Baran Farooqui), about the pain of partition. These tear-stained words are beautifully set to music in the eponymous song sung by Amira Gill and composed by herself and Vasundhara Gupta. Gill’s richly textured voice takes you to the ransacked villages, killings, rape and pillaging. The wound might have healed, but the scar remains.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The song was released on streaming platforms on August 26 to mark the premiere of the docu-drama Child of Empire, at the Sundance Film Festival 2022. The film resulted from Project Dastaan, a 2019 initiative to help partition survivors visit the villages they left behind. Child of Empire is currently being shown at various museums in the UK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“For me, the most fascinating, and perhaps the most important, message was that this was the only poem that Faiz saab ever wrote about partition,” says Gill. “For a writer that renowned and prolific, for whom the partition was life-altering, to write only one poem about it meant it was an all-encapsulating experience; he poured all of himself into these words.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seventy-five years after partition, as Gupta says, we are the last generation to have a direct line to the survivors and witnesses of the event. Songs like ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ lets it remain alive in our collective consciousness.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/how-two-women-brought-alive-faiz-ahmed-faizs-iconic-poem-on-partition.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/09/03/how-two-women-brought-alive-faiz-ahmed-faizs-iconic-poem-on-partition.html Sat Sep 03 11:21:46 IST 2022 crime-writing-gets-a-fillip-at-home <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/crime-writing-gets-a-fillip-at-home.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/27/63-The-plot-thickens.jpg" /> <p>This is possibly the only time to celebrate a murder. Especially if the spilling of blood gets noticed by the most entrenched crime syndicate in the business—the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) in Britain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the first time, books by two Indians have made it to the coveted CWA list, one of the bigger awards for crime writing. While Meeti Shroff-Shah’s The Death of Kirti Kadakia: A Temple Hill Mystery made it to the long list, Rahul Raina’s How to Kidnap the Rich was short-listed. They did not win any Daggers (as the prize is known), but they certainly made ‘plotted’ history.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The two books are at two ends of crime fiction. Raina focuses on the gritty side of the most powerful city in the country—Delhi—told through the eyes of the lower-class Ramesh, while Shroff-Shah’s crime story unfolds in Temple Hills—home to rich Gujaratis—in the heart of a city known for its gang violence. Radhika Zaveri returns from the US post divorce, and gets absorbed in the life of her best friend, Sanjana. Sanjana’s father, Kirti Kadakia, is found dead with an empty bottle of sleeping pills and a plastic bag over his head. While the police may be ready to believe it to be suicide, Radhika does not think so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“On Temple Hills, being happy is not quite as important as seeming happy,” writes Shroff-Shah in her book. It is this world that she conjures up—gossipy, brutally competitive, unforgiving sometimes, but always entertaining. “I haven’t read many mysteries based in this idyllic south Mumbai world,” says Shroff-Shah. “We have got that close-knit community, which you see in that English village or that Scottish little town. You have got the nosy neighbours. You have got the old family doctor you have been going to.” She clearly knows this world. Her parents went to the same doctor for decades, and now go to his son. “This is where I grew up,” she says. “I mean, it is obviously based on Malabar Hill.” The tagline says a ‘Gujarati Murder Mystery’, centred around a pure vegetarian khandaan. Compulsive like chips, this is a one-gulp book. Shroff-Shah’s 16 years as a copywriter has helped her “to be very crisp, very succinct in how you express yourself”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like Shroff-Shah, Raina’s intimate knowledge of Delhi is key to the book. Raina, under 30 years, has received a rave review by Kevin Kwan of Crazy Rich Asians. The book arrived in the middle of the pandemic without much fuss, but has been selling steadily through the best way possible—word of mouth. It is the story of Ramesh Kumar, an educational consultant and “the best exam-taker in Delhi’’. He takes the exam for Rudi, a spoilt Indian teenager with a “no-matches-on-Tinder-face”, to make him a topper and offer instant fame.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book has been acquired by Riz Ahmed for a web series. “It doesn’t happen to many books,’’ says Raina. “It doesn’t happen to many or any Indian books at all, very few crime books…. People thought that after the pandemic, what people wanted to read was kind of cutesy books. But it turns out that people want to read books about funny crimes. They want that sense of justice… that sense of completion and order.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is very much a Delhi book, with the mixing of corruption, power, greed, deal-making and just the right amount of sleaze to make it work. It is more than just a crime novel—Raina uses the format to smuggle in larger themes of class, violence, power and corruption. “Getting through a day in India just requires a level of slightly criminal thinking or slightly, you know, stretching the ways that you do things,’’ he says, with a laugh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book is addictive and political. “I think one of the things that I am most interested in fiction is this idea of secrecy and keeping secrets,’’ says Raina. “And, having this thing that you cannot kind of let out and I am sure that some of that came from my childhood of being a Kashmiri in Delhi…. [Having] this sense that you come from a very special place, a special place that’s full of a lot of darkness right now, and that that’s something that you need to keep to yourself. I think that’s definitely filtered through in some sense.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Crime is voraciously read in India, but the bookshelf is still more white than brown in English. There have been, however, those who have bucked the trend to create a loyal audience. Anita Nair has with Inspector Gowda, and Madhulika Liddle with Muzaffar Jang, the 17th century detective. Raza Mir turned Ghalib into a detective; Vish Dhamija has Rita Ferreira. Bhaskar Chattopadhay has Janardan Maity. Diplomat-writer Vikas Swarup’s Six Suspects has become a web series. Anuja Chauhan made a splash with Club You to Death. Udayan Mukherjee has plotted A Death in the Himalayas. And even Chetan Bhagat has tried his hand at mystery, but not very successfully. A reminder that being fast-paced is not necessarily the only ingredient required for a satisfying read. There was also Shortz, an imprint by Westland, that is crime on steroids, as well as the deep dive non-fiction of S. Hussain Zaidi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is a happening genre,” says Krishan Chopra, editor-in-chief, Bloomsbury India, who has published Shroff-Shah’s book in India. “There is something about the crime genre that lends itself to creativity. Given the interest and the creative talent, we can soon expect international hits, too.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Indian publishing has had many breakthrough literary moments—a permanent place on the shelf with Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Anuradha Roy and Vikram Seth. But for commercial fiction—whether with thrillers or crime fiction—the big hit is still awaited. “In India, romance is the most popular,’’ says Ambar Sahil Chatterjee, literary agent at A Suitable Agency. “Indians have been weaned on the template of romance with Bollywood. There is little appetite for science fiction, mystery or crime. It is very difficult to battle a mindset.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But perhaps Shroff-Shah and Raina offer hope. Both have international book deals. Both seem to have found some measure of success outside India, before they were finally found in India. “It got picked up in the UK faster than it got picked up in India,’’ says Shroff-Shah, who has a three book deal. “It took an international offer to get an India offer.’’ Her next book is ready and will be out soon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raina, too, has a second and a third planned. “An Agatha Christie thing set in Britain,’’ he says. “It’s about British society in the same kind of way, but more about the expectations of immigrants.’’ The third one will be set in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It will be one helluva crime spree.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/crime-writing-gets-a-fillip-at-home.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/crime-writing-gets-a-fillip-at-home.html Sat Aug 27 12:11:48 IST 2022 why-nope-marks-a-turning-point-for-jordan-peele <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/why-nope-marks-a-turning-point-for-jordan-peele.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/27/66-Peele-at-the-Hollywood-premiere-of-Nope-new.jpg" /> <p>Ten years ago, while he was still finding his feet as a comedian, Jordan Peele gave away a solid clue about his well-concealed fondness for horror. He named his new production company after the famous horror story The Monkey’s Paw by the Englishman W.W. Jacobs, published 1902.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the story, a British Army sergeant from India visits an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs White, in their country home in England. After a fireside chat and supper, the sergeant reluctantly passes on to the couple a mummified monkey’s paw. The thing is ugly, but also magical—a fakir has cast a spell on it. Anyone can make three wishes come true by holding it up and saying a prayer. But before he leaves, the sergeant warns the couple not to play the wishing game, because the wishes would tamper with fate and have grim consequences. But Mr and Mrs White try their luck anyway.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks to Monkeypaw Productions, Peele’s many wishes have come true. His first project under the banner, a series of sketches for which he teamed up with fellow comedian Keegan-Michael Key, was wildly successful for its inventive, situational humour. Called Key &amp; Peele, the sketches ran from 2012 to 2015, winning awards and garnering nearly two billion YouTube views.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Peele hit pay dirt in 2017, when he wrote and directed Get Out—a horror film in which a black man is trapped by his white girlfriend’s family, taken control of by her hypnotist mother, and imprisoned in a psychological purgatory.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Provocative and entertaining, Get Out won Peele a screenwriting Oscar and made a fortune for Monkeypaw. But, spookily, the success mirrors Mr and Mrs White’s first monkey-paw wish. They ask for money to pay off their mortgage; they get it as compensation when their son dies in a terrible accident in a factory.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The death of his comedy career seems to have been the price Peele has paid. Which is unfortunate, because he has been a meme-lord of the internet. In one of his most meme-fied sketches—titled ‘Obama Meet &amp; Greet’—Peele’s Barack Obama runs into a roomful of black and white supporters. The whites get stiff handshakes from the president, while the blacks get exuberant howdies, high-fives, hugs and kisses. (Obama is momentarily stumped when he is introduced to a brown man, played by Key. He opens up only when he is told that the man is one-eighth black. “Afternoon, my octoroon!” coos Obama).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Like Obama, Peele, 43, is half-black, was raised by his white mother, and wrestles with race issues. Born in New York, he is an alumnus of Boom Chicago, an improvisational comedy group in Amsterdam that has influenced the who’s who of comedy on both sides of the Atlantic. He has also been an actor (most famously in the anthology crime caper Fargo), a show-creator (the ‘original gangster’ saga The Last O.G.), a TV show host (in the 2019 revival of the 1960s’ sci-fi landmark The Twilight Zone) and a producer (of the Oscar-winning Spike Lee drama BlacKkKlansman).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But Peele’s run as an artistic all-rounder seems history now. Soon after his second film—Us, in which a black family is attacked by evil doppelgängers— he signed a multimillion-dollar deal with a major studio to produce exclusive horror content for it for five years. His third and latest film, the sci-fi horror mystifyingly titled Nope, is a fruit of that deal. Nope is about two siblings in a California ranch who discover that a UFO is hiding in a cloud above their property, and decide to make money out of it. Peele’s previous two films were made on a shoestring, but Nope is mounted on a grand scale—it is the first horror film shot with IMAX cameras.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Visually, Nope has the feel of a Spielberg spectacle, but at its heart is a little-known piece of film history—the making of the Muybridge clip, which is an animated series of photographs shot in 1878 of a black man riding a horse. “In a lot of ways, this film is a response to the Muybridge clip,” Peele said while promoting the film. “We know who Eadweard Muybridge is—the man who created the clip—but we don’t know who the guy on the horse is. He is the first movie star, the first animal trainer, the first stunt rider ever, and no-one knows who he is!”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Peele says the siblings in Nope, who are black, are a shout-out to that forgotten hero. “They are,” he says, “trying to claim their rightful place as part of the spectacle.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Is Nope any good? Yes, if you focus just on the breathtaking cinematography (by the Dutch-Swedish wizard Hoyte van Hoytema). But nope, if you tend to feel annoyed by Easter eggs in the story that you have no chances of figuring out. Nope is so jam-packed with those that you wonder whether Peele has run out of original ideas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Perhaps, like Mr and Mrs White, he is trapped by the suffocating success of his damning first wish. In the story, Mr and Mrs White try to make everything right by asking the monkey paw to bring their son back from the grave—alive. Soon they hear terrifying knocks on the door at night, and Mr White, imagining the mutilated and decomposed body of his son waiting at the door, desperately makes his third wish. And the knocking stops.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under his Monkeypaw deal, Peele will have to keep knocking for a while.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/why-nope-marks-a-turning-point-for-jordan-peele.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/why-nope-marks-a-turning-point-for-jordan-peele.html Sat Aug 27 12:00:54 IST 2022 tomatoes-in-32-acts <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tomatoes-in-32-acts.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/27/68Chef-Mohammed-Eliyaz-curated.jpg" /> <p>Chef Mohammed Eliyaz, executive sous chef at The Leela Bhartiya City in Bengaluru, has a long record of rustling up unconventional dining experiences. He has recently been pushing the envelope with genetically modified fruits and vegetables. Not too keen on importing certain varieties of produce, he started looking for suppliers growing exotic fruits and vegetables in India. That was when he met Archana Shinde of Sarga Farms in Pune. Together, they created some rather confounding dishes not easily available in fine-dining set ups.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For instance, he curated a dish with 32 varieties of tomatoes in a smorgasbord of flavours (tartish, sweet and umami, to name a few), textures (gel, foam, raw and grilled) and colours (red, orange, yellow and black). Another curiosity he conjured was with a white capsicum, just to add an element of wonder and surprise. “We wanted to ensure the dish pays tribute to the vegetable’s many stages of modification,” says Eliyaz. “We decided to serve up a Mediterranean dish in which we used the capsicum in pulp form around the vegetable that was chargrilled and stuffed with broken wheat, sultanas and dried apricots for that sweet, meaty and textured bite. When you realise the extent to which fruits and vegetables can be modified, a whole new world opens up.” He insists that there has been no evidence to suggest that GM foods are harmful or risky to eat. Eliyaz does not like repeating his experiments. So, he recently created a panacotta dessert with asparagus!</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tomatoes-in-32-acts.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tomatoes-in-32-acts.html Sat Aug 27 11:54:09 IST 2022 an-apple-in-the-garden-or-a-droid-in-the-garage <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/an-apple-in-the-garden-or-a-droid-in-the-garage.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/27/69-Your-Apple-watch.jpg" /> <p>There are two types of people—those who use Android phones and those who use iPhones. In developed markets, this is a matter of personal choice as most consumers can afford iPhones, made by Apple, as well as flagship Android phones, made by a handful of handset makers and are licensed by Google to use its operating system. In India, however, the choice is also a matter of price—good Android phones start at Rs10,000, while the cheapest iPhone costs three or four times that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When it comes to functionality, however, there is very little that separates Android and iPhone’s iOS operating systems. Expensive Android phones usually have better hardware and, as a result, may offer a more refined user experience than the entry-level or mid-level ones. iPhone’s hardware is usually top-of-the-line and the software is optimised to match hardware capabilites.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Irrespective of the operating system, a smartphone is the primary device for most people and the only device for many. It is fair to say that their digital lives are part of an ecosystem provided by Google or Apple. This is simple if a smartphone is the only device you use, but that is often not the case. You might be using a computer, a smartwatch, a tablet or even a cloud service for storage. All these are part of your digital life, which is fragmented across manufacturers and service providers and the different ecosystems they offer. For instance, you might be using an iPhone (part of the Apple ecosystem), a Windows computer (part of Microsoft’s and the device manufacturers’ ecosystems) and Google drive for storage (part of the Google/Android ecosystem). This works fine, but it is a lot smoother in an integrated ecosystem, like the one Apple provides.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apple offers an almost-perfect ecosystem of products and services. There is the iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook, the Apple Watch, the AirPods (wireless earbuds), the Apple TV (a device you can connect to the television to stream content), and the HomePod (smart speakers). Then there are services like iCloud+ (cloud storage), Music, TV+, Fitness+ and News+. The ecosystem offers system-wide integration of Apple products and services. For instance, your Apple watch can unlock your Mac; or AirPods can seamlessly switch to the active Apple device; or you can continue chatting on iMessages on any of your Apple device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Google also offers an array of services that can be synced on most devices. Google photos, for instance, backs up photos taken on phones and tablets, and lets you access them on any device. Samsung’s new devices (its flagship phones, tablets and the Galaxy series laptops) can interact with each other to offer a seamless experience for the user.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Technology giants these days are focused on building ecosystems rather than offering standalone devices. These ecosystems make things a lot easier for users, but they are also walled gardens that make it difficult to get out in case you want to.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/an-apple-in-the-garden-or-a-droid-in-the-garage.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/an-apple-in-the-garden-or-a-droid-in-the-garage.html Sat Aug 27 11:51:22 IST 2022 tamil-rockerz-series-informative-but-emotionally-unsatisfying <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tamil-rockerz-series-informative-but-emotionally-unsatisfying.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/27/70-Arun-Vijay.jpg" /> <p>In 2007, when Sivaji: The Boss, produced by AVM Productions—the oldest active film production house and studio in India—was released, Aruna Guhan was a student at Stella Maris College, Chennai. Her father, M.S. Guhan was helming AVM then. One of Aruna’s classmates asked her for a shocking favour. “That girl asked me whether I could help her to get a pirated DVD copy of Sivaji,” she says. “Being a producer’s kid, I have first-hand experience of what piracy can do to people working in the film industry.” Aruna and her twin sister Aparna now lead the operations at AVM Productions. Through their debut web series, Tamil Rockerz—directed by Arivazhagan Venkatachalam and released on Sony Liv on August 19—the AVM sisters hope to make the audience aware of piracy’s damage to film industries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tamilrockers is synonymous with piracy in the south Indian film industries. It came into prominence as a public torrent website that offers links to pirated copies of films. There are many different versions of the notorious group’s origin story. A 2017 interview in VoxSpace of Bhaskar Kumar—supposedly a founding member of the group—says that its origin is connected with AVM’s anti-piracy actions. Kumar’s version was that Tamilrockers was founded in 2007, after the release of Sivaji. Bhaskar used to own a popular CD rental shop in Saravanampatty, Coimbatore. He would buy stockpiles of porn CDs from Chennai-based Daniel Raju, who would later become the mastermind behind Tamilrockers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sivaji, a mega-budget Rajinikanth-starrer, was hugely hyped, and many CD rental shops profited from selling camrip DVDs of the film. But then, when AVM complained, the anti-piracy cell of Tamil Nadu police raided and closed down many of these shops. Thus, Raju came up with the idea of uploading films on torrent. Bhaskar, Raju and four others started working from a shed in Nungambakkam. The group uploaded Camrip, Webrip and DVDrip versions of films. Soon, they built a loyal consumer base. Producers, distributors and theatre owners became part of their global piracy network.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tamil Rockerz is a fictional take on the myths and facts about its namesake and other similar groups. “Our research was on how piracy works,” says Manoj Kumar Kalaivanan, who co-wrote the series with Rajesh Manjunath. “The story is not about Tamilrockers or any particular group alone. We got all the information available on piracy, and then created a fictional world around it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story revolves around the piracy group Tamil Rockerz threatening the producer of a “300 crore film” and its ‘golder star’, Aditya. Ruthless policeman Rudra (Arun Vijay) is out to nab the group, after suffering a personal tragedy at its hands. The series’s eight episodes take the audience to the dark underbelly of piracy. There is a serious effort by the makers to explain to the audience how piracy works—technically and financially. These explanations, however, are embedded in a narrative that fails to emotionally connect with the audience in certain parts. However, the series touches the right notes when it makes crucial observations about the grey markets selling pirated films, and how piracy affects people at multiple levels.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tamil-rockerz-series-informative-but-emotionally-unsatisfying.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/27/tamil-rockerz-series-informative-but-emotionally-unsatisfying.html Sat Aug 27 11:48:14 IST 2022 rasika-dugal-shefali-shah-on-how-their-relationship-evolves-in-delhi-vrime-season-2 <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/rasika-dugal-shefali-shah-on-how-their-relationship-evolves-in-delhi-vrime-season-2.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/20/63-Rasika-Dugal-and-Shefali-Shah.jpg" /> <p>In cinema, the police are often depicted as ruffians and villains, brutally beating up suspects, shamelessly taking bribes or hiding evidence to protect the people in power. But three years ago, Richie Mehta’s Delhi Crime—which revisited the six-day-long manhunt following the brutal Delhi gang-rape of 2012—parted the curtains to give us a glimpse of what really goes on behind a police investigation. Its hope and hopelessness, the uncertainty, the relentless hounding by the media, the toll of witnessing human savagery at close quarters.... It was no wonder that the web series was the first from India to win an Emmy. Delhi Crime humanised the police force in a way that few shows had done before.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And now, it is time for the second season, and much is riding on it. The challenge for Delhi Crime season 2 was to retain the success formula of the original, while doing something totally different that would expand the world of the main characters—Madam-Sir DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah) and her deputy, the promising young officer Neeti Singh (Rasika Dugal). The show releases on Netflix on August 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Three years after season 1, the plot has thickened and the lead actors have matured, both in their real and reel lives. Vartika has taken on additional responsibilities and her deputy has been promoted from a trainee to an ACP (assistant police commissioner). From a wide-eyed novice, she has become an officer with authority. Interestingly, this has also been the growth trajectory of the officer whom Dugal shadowed in season 1 to learn the ropes of policing. “In Delhi Crime season 1, I shadowed a lady cop who was also a probationer,” says Dugal. “We became close friends and would hang out in between shoots. So, when shooting for season 2 was about to begin, I got in touch with her, and she told me that she had been promoted to ACP and was posted in Chandigarh. That was exactly how I had also been promoted in the series. So I shadowed her again and spent more than a week as a fly on the wall in her office.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vartika’s character, too, has evolved. If the crime had become personal for her in season 1, every crime has started mattering to her in season 2. “In the first season, there was no wavering of moral compass,” says Shah about her character. “It was very straight. Vartika felt anger, frustration and pain, but now even though there is evidence pointing in a certain direction and there is a procedure she must follow, her instinct protests.” While the screenplay in season 1 had focused entirely on the crime as the centre of the narrative, this season fleshes out the interpersonal dynamics of its characters with added nuance and depth. Here, the women are self-assured and not shy of coming across as flawed and faltering at times. In an interview with THE WEEK, both Dugal and Shah say that the essence of Delhi Crime season 2 is how their relationship impacts and influences the larger crimes that they set out to solve. This season, too, is inspired by true events and fictionalised in part to make it a gripping watch. Mehta as showrunner, however, has been replaced by Tanuj Chopra, and Mehta only serves as a producer in this season. The plot follows Vartika and Neeti as they chase a gang involved in the brutal murder of senior citizens in the 1980s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But the focus this season is not only on the two leading officers solving crime in Delhi, but also on how they are trying to navigate their personal lives,” says Dugal. “And that, to me, was one of the moving things about my journey in season 2. Neeti’s relationship with her Madam-Sir has evolved so much that when I see them together in a frame, it forms the essence of the entire Delhi Crime plot. At times we have a face-off, at other times we support one another, and even though we are both very different externally, we are probably going through the same things within and know that about each other,” says Dugal. This is beautifully captured in a scene in the final episode when Vartika silently acknowledges Neeti’s personal situation and reaches out to her in a quiet, professional, non-patronising and non-intrusive way. Both women agree that this remarkable scene captures the essence of Delhi Crime.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Just like in the series, both Shah and Dugal have a lot in common when it comes to their career arc. Neither of them has worked as much as they have in the past three years. Both their popularity soared with the introduction of OTT, both have featured in immensely popular web series that have gone on to achieve cult status, and both have back-to-back releases coming up. Also, both have now become choosier about their scripts. Shah started the year with Human, went on to Jalsa, and then followed it up with the highly successful Darlings. Dugal experimented with a new genre in Postcards from Jharkhand, in which she takes us through the culture and beauty of her home state, and now awaits the release of Mirzapur season 3. She will also be seen soon in the horror thriller, Adhura. As the two ladies try to juggle “an overwhelming amount of work after spending long years in the industry as actors”, they both agree that they have become more confident than ever about their own “prowess and power”. “I think it has taken a lot to come this far, and now it feels as though it is just the start,” says Shah. “There is so much more to do and to achieve.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/rasika-dugal-shefali-shah-on-how-their-relationship-evolves-in-delhi-vrime-season-2.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/rasika-dugal-shefali-shah-on-how-their-relationship-evolves-in-delhi-vrime-season-2.html Sat Aug 20 11:37:40 IST 2022 kiruthiga-udhayanidhi-on-how-she-made-the-hit-show-paper-rocket <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/kiruthiga-udhayanidhi-on-how-she-made-the-hit-show-paper-rocket.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/20/66-Kiruthiga-Udhayanidhi-new.jpg" /> <p>We are all sojourners on this journey called life, whose destination is death. Some, however, are on the fast lane to this destination. Paper Rocket, the new seven-episode series on Zee5, tells the story of six such people who want to commit suicide. The series stars Kalidas Jayaram in the lead as Jeeva, one of the six youngsters. The others include Ilakya (Tanya Ravichandran) who is in therapy for her anger issues; Valliamma (K. Renuka), who has stage 4 cancer; and Charu (Gouri Kishan), who is paralysed after an accident in a swimming pool. The story follows the six as they go on a trip of self-discovery in a van named saavu vandi (death vehicle). The journey ultimately proves to them that this life, painful as it may be, is not worth giving up. The series handles grief with a deft touch, neither sentimentalising it, nor shearing it of its gravity. Pleasure and pain in Paper Rocket lend poignancy to each other, and themes like sexual harassment are treated sensitively. Coming at the time of a pandemic, when the only certain thing about life seems to be its uncertainty, it is no wonder that the series touched a chord with the viewers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I never imagined such a huge response from the audience,” says Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi, who wrote and directed the series. She is thrilled that so many people could relate with the emotions of the characters. Kiruthiga is as unpretentious as the small office in T. Nagar where I meet her. Her answers are spontaneous and impulsive. “I don’t think much of box office or commercial success,” she says. “I just want to make the kind of films I want.” Paper Rocket is her OTT debut, and the story is a patchwork quilt of incidents from her own life and from those of people around her.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kiruthiga had the script in mind even before the existence of OTT. But she had to keep it aside, as there was no platform for telling long format stories then. “I had one line for each episode,” she says. “But when Zee5 agreed to hear my story, I came up with the script. I was looking for the right producer who would not want me to make changes in the script just for the sake of commercial success.” Paper Rocket’s script is the quickest one she has written, says Kiruthiga. She had clarity of thought and purpose, and was sure about how she wanted her characters to be portrayed on screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kiruthiga’s tryst with cinema began almost a decade ago with her first project—Vanakkam Chennai (2013)—starring Mirchi Shiva and Priya Anand in the lead. A few years later, her next, Kaali (2018), starring Vijay Antony, released. But both the films bombed at the box office. Ask her what she learnt from her failures and she replies with a chuckle, “I don’t know if I have learnt anything.” She says she has never written anything out of fear of failure. “I have never stuck to a formula, because the audience did not demand that,” she says. “I just want to make films of my own kind.” Whether her scripts click or backfire, she lets neither success nor failure affect her. “I follow my instinct,” she says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kiruthiga has never trained as a filmmaker nor worked under any popular director. As a result, she has not had it easy. She did at least two show reels for Vanakkam Chennai. The first one was rejected, even by Red Giant, the production company owned by her husband, Udhayanidhi Stalin. So she did another show reel with a different cast, which finally impressed the production team.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hailing from an affluent and politically powerful family, Kiruthiga’s passion for writing and story-telling got her into cinema. Before and after Vanakkam Chennai, she kept pitching scripts to producers. A post-graduate in mass communication, Kiruthiga was into story-telling right from her college days. She worked as a freelance copywriter and even ran a fashion magazine called INBOX 1305 before becoming a filmmaker. She grew up in a progressive family which always gave her the freedom to pursue her passion. “I could have chosen another career path, gotten into business or done something else that would have made my life a little easier,” says Kiruthiga. “But I chose my passion. I always stick to what I enjoy thoroughly.” She wrote her first script just before her elder son was born. And she did Kaali when her daughter was six months old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ask her what kind of inspiration M. Karunanidhi (her husband’s grandfather) has been to her as a scriptwriter, and she says, “Of course I have watched his movies and read his scripts. He is inspirational. But cinema has definitely changed. Those were the days when ideology played a major role and cinema was just a medium.” As for her, cinema and politics are poles apart, and never the twain shall meet. “I have stayed away from politics, though it is there at home,” she says. “I have always been myself and have never let anyone at home influence me.” Her feet might be dipped in the politics at home, but her head is far above in the clouds of cinema.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/kiruthiga-udhayanidhi-on-how-she-made-the-hit-show-paper-rocket.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/kiruthiga-udhayanidhi-on-how-she-made-the-hit-show-paper-rocket.html Sat Aug 20 11:32:53 IST 2022 parched-memories <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/parched-memories.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/20/68-Parched-memories-new.jpg" /> <p>Throughout his life, Mohd Intiyaz, a visual artist from Jharkhand, has been enmeshed in situations and family experiences that had a lasting impact on his memories and artistic sensitivity. His artwork often sheds light on crucial childhood events related to migration and marginalisation. Realising many of these hardships were not unique, but often a shared reality, he started to question why injustice is overlooked as a societal norm, and why it is so hard to talk about it openly. His works in a new show, ‘Can We Talk’, at Method Kalaghoda in Mumbai, convey underlying questions on labour, production, protest, and identity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pictured here is ‘Age 8’, a mixed-media canvas addressing the difficulties involved in fetching water. When Intiyaz was eight, his family did not have a water supply connection at their rented accommodation in Delhi. They would fetch water from a municipal water tank. The people in the queues were desperate and vicious, he says, because water was limited and the people, endless. He recalls an incident when a woman in the queue snatched his bucket and threw it away just because he was a renter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Intiyaz has an MFA in painting from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, and was the recipient of the FICA and Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation Emerging Artist Award 2020.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/parched-memories.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/parched-memories.html Sat Aug 20 11:27:18 IST 2022 indian-matchmaking-2-review-sima-taparia-is-a-lot-less-annoying-than-matchmakers-i-knew <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/indian-matchmaking-2-review-sima-taparia-is-a-lot-less-annoying-than-matchmakers-i-knew.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/20/68-Indian-Matchmaking-2.jpg" /> <p>Back in my day, a matchmaker from my village would insist that the prospective bride wear a sari while the boy’s side comes calling. Dowry was an integral part of arranged marriages, and so was the hyperbole that matchmakers used while describing the boy and girl to ensure that the marriage happened. Sima Taparia, of Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking, is a lot less annoying than the matchmakers I knew.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, times have changed. And so have matchmakers. ‘Sima aunty’, for example, does not even mention the word ‘dowry’. She thinks of the boy and girl as her ‘children’, diligently finds out what they are looking for in each other, lets them vent and lends them a patient ear. She is pragmatic and sensitive to the needs and feelings of her clients. “First is marriage, then love. That is the beauty of arranged marriages,” says Taparia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the series reinforces stereotypes, such as the reference to encountering cows on the streets while driving in India. It also promotes superstition. Taparia, who does not approve of Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra, endorses face reader Janardhan Dhurbe, who predicts a match’s success from the photographs of the potential groom and bride.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But everyone loves to watch a show on matchmaking. It is heartwarming to listen to long married couples talk about how they first met and fell in love. Everyone has something to say about Indian Matchmaking season 2. Sima aunty’s matches may not be made in heaven, but they sure are a great conversation starter..</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/indian-matchmaking-2-review-sima-taparia-is-a-lot-less-annoying-than-matchmakers-i-knew.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/indian-matchmaking-2-review-sima-taparia-is-a-lot-less-annoying-than-matchmakers-i-knew.html Sat Aug 20 11:21:40 IST 2022 only-32-per-cent-of-users-on-facebook-are-teens-finds-a-new-study <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/only-32-per-cent-of-users-on-facebook-are-teens-finds-a-new-study.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/20/69-Facebook-users-were-teens.jpg" /> <p>In January, Anikha Surendran, a Malayali teen actor, made a controversial comment about Facebook users. “Who uses Facebook except for some uncles,” she asked while answering an interviewer’s question about her favourite social media platform. Surendran was trolled mercilessly on social media for her impromptu response. However, a recent study by Pew Research Centre on American teenagers proves that teens are, in fact, abandoning Facebook.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study found a rapidly declining trend in the number of teen Facebook users over the last few years: In 2014-15, 71 per cent of Facebook users were teens; in 2022, it is only 32 per cent. YouTube is the platform used by most teens (95 per cent ), followed by TikTok (67 per cent), Instagram (62 per cent) and Snapchat (59 per cent).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Pew findings are consistent with Facebook’s internal reports leaked by whistle-blower Frances Haugen in 2021. The reports stated that “most young adults perceive Facebook as a place for people in their 40s and 50s”. If this trend of an ageing user base continues, it will make a huge hole in Facebook’s ad revenue—which constitutes the bulk of its overall revenue—in the coming years.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/only-32-per-cent-of-users-on-facebook-are-teens-finds-a-new-study.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/20/only-32-per-cent-of-users-on-facebook-are-teens-finds-a-new-study.html Sat Aug 20 11:17:35 IST 2022 meet-erin-espelie-the-scientist-turned-filmmaker-who-fuses-science-and-art <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/meet-erin-espelie-the-scientist-turned-filmmaker-who-fuses-science-and-art.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/131-Erin-Espelie-new.jpg" /> <p>More than 4.5 billion years ago, cyanobacteria started doing something that would change the earth’s atmosphere. The aquatic microorganism ate carbon and sunlight, multiplied, and released oxygen as a by-product. Over time, the oxygen released by generations of cyanobacteria accumulated on the earth’s atmosphere. This “great oxygenation event” led to the emergence of oxygen-metabolising, multicellular organisms, including homo sapiens. Today, scientists are studying the carbon-fixing mechanism of cyanobacteria to reverse some of the damage humanity has done to the earth’s atmosphere. Scientist-turned-filmmaker Erin Espelie’s time-lapse video series Refresh—which opens up a unique view into the lives of these microscopic heroes—is now on display at the Expedition Health exhibition of the Denver Museum of Nature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Espelie’s films have been screened at the British Film Institute and major international film festivals in New York, Rotterdam and Edinburgh. Her mother is a virologist, and her father, a biochemist. So, she had an early opportunity to work in lab settings. “I grew up as an academic brat. I have been working in labs since the age of 14,” she says. She spent most of her childhood on the campuses of the University of Idaho and the Washington State University, where her parents were working.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After completing her degree in molecular and cell biology from Cornell University, she received offers from Harvard and MIT to study biology. But she turned them down to “take a little time off” in New York. “I accepted a graduate position at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), but they granted me one year [to join the programme],” she says. That one year allowed her to explore the theatre scene in New York. Though her parents were art lovers, during her school days, Espelie, 43, had thought of the arts as something “extracurricular”. New York changed her perspective. There, she worked for the Aquila Theatre Company as a box office clerk and an occasional performer for their educational productions. She also worked at the Paris Review as a poetry reader.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Espelie did not get disconnected from science either, as she got an opportunity to work at the American Museum of Natural History. “I started working with the Natural History magazine,” she says. “And that is where I found this interesting world where people were covering the sciences, thinking about their breadth and how they are interconnected. I felt like I could get more of an aerial view of science, as opposed to being with my nose to the petri dish, so to speak, and not able to think more expansively.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once the one-year period was over, she asked for an extension, but UCSF turned her down. So she continued in New York and worked on some “conventional” documentary projects. However, the real turning point came in 2006 when she joined Meerkat Media, an artistic community facilitating collaborative filmmaking. “People who were part of the collective helped other members on their film projects,” she says. “Meerkat helped me learn quite a lot about cinematography, editing, sound recording, and sound mixing. The first film I made with them—Every Third Bite (2008)—was about a colony collapse disorder in honeybees.” In 2009, she brought out a six-minute short, What Part of Earth is Inhabited, in which she coalesced the ideas of speciation and extinction. The film was shown at the New York Film Festival. It gave her confidence to become an independent, avant-garde filmmaker. In 2014, her first feature-length documentary, The Lanthanide Series was released. The film, which mediates on the importance of the “rare earths” (the elements with atomic numbers between 57 and 71) in human life, was praised by critics for the way it “fused poetry and science”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“My films are science films. At the fundamental level, they are attempting to recapitulate what it means to do science—to ask questions and to experiment in the body of the work,” she says. From 2012 to 2015, Espelie taught courses in environmental issues and the documentary arts at Duke University. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. An association with Jeff Cameron, an assistant professor studying cyanobacteria at the Colorado university, led to the development of Refresh. The short portrays the photosynthetic action, multiplication and self-destruction of generations of cyanobacteria. At the exhibition, on one side of the screen are photographs of cyanobacteria. On the other are dozens of petri dishes containing these “artfully plated” organisms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I was very intrigued that Jeff’s mode of research involved a camera,” says Espelie, who is married to David Gatten, an experimental filmmaker and a movie image artist. “He had built a camera attached to his microscope that would allow to look at the growth of a single cell. This was something new. Of course, you can look at dead cells, but to look at living cells at a single-cell level and see their growth over time was new.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Espelie adds that Cameron did not look at the cyanobacteria after a certain length of time, because they would multiply and fill the screen. “But one of the things he had never noticed was that once they fill the screen, the cyanobacteria build up an oxygen level which is dangerous to themselves. So, just like how the carbon dioxide is now toxic to us, the oxygen they produce becomes toxic to them,” she says. For Espelie, this phenomenon was a wonderful moment of discovery. “It was so moving to think about that in terms of extinction—this soft destruction that takes place because of their atmospheric gases is projecting a little bit,” she says. “And that is one of the things that I think most scientists are nervous about. They do not want to project too much. But sometimes we can see ourselves better if we project ourselves onto something else. And art does this projection wonderfully.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/meet-erin-espelie-the-scientist-turned-filmmaker-who-fuses-science-and-art.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/meet-erin-espelie-the-scientist-turned-filmmaker-who-fuses-science-and-art.html Tue Aug 16 14:02:39 IST 2022 why-the-song-teenage-dirtbag-is-suddenly-trending <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/why-the-song-teenage-dirtbag-is-suddenly-trending.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/134-Teenage-Dirtbag.jpg" /> <p>On June 20, 2000, American rock band Wheatus released the song ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, which became a global sensation. It was inspired by a bad childhood experience of the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Brendon B. Brown, when he witnessed a murder in the woods behind his home on Long Island.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The occult practitioner Ricky Kasso, who committed the murder, was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt when he was arrested. It was a period of “satanic panic” in the US. The locals became suspicious of heavy metal fans. Brown, who had a tape case full of AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Metallica, was questioned by parents, teachers and clergy about whether he was a satan worshipper. Brown wrote the line, ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’, as an act of defiance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘Teenage Dirtbag’ recently witnessed a resurgence on social media when Gen Z-ers embraced it to talk about their awkward teenage memories and the weird fashion trends they followed. More than eight lakh videos were created on short-video platforms with the tag #teenagedirtbagtrend. The idea of presenting yourself as the “teenage misfit” on social media to appear cool was evident. However, it is doubtful whether these platforms can capture the real essence of the song—Brown’s isolation and ostracisation in his adolescence just because he used to listen to Iron Maiden.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/why-the-song-teenage-dirtbag-is-suddenly-trending.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/why-the-song-teenage-dirtbag-is-suddenly-trending.html Sat Aug 13 12:42:09 IST 2022 faux-egg-anyone <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/faux-egg-anyone.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/134-Evo-Original-Peri-Peri-Cubes-new.jpg" /> <p>From jackfruit biryani and Soya 65 to bean sliders and beetroot kebabs, the world of plant-based, vegan dishes is often the butt of ridicule at sumptuous dinner tables. Mention BBQ pulled jackfruit tacos and the eye-rolls and face-palms start pouring in. And plant-based eggs? The joke will be the most predictable of the lot: Vegans can lay their own eggs for breakfast.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now the Mumbai-based startup Evo has launched ‘The world’s first boiled egg, made entirely from plants.’ I am not a big believer in “world’s firsts”, and honestly, egg-free eggs have been around for a while. Vegans and carnivores alike have been comparing notes on which brand comes closest to the fluffy, chewy texture of a real scrambled egg on Amazon customer reviews. The question is, how much do we need faux eggs?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes, there is always the argument of cholesterol. Chicken eggs are known to be naturally high in dietary cholesterol. But that is now being disputed. “Recent research shows that you no longer need to restrict dietary cholesterol from eggs, since there wasn’t a strong connection made between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels,” writes Bonnie Taub-Dix in Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table. But then, who can overlook the sure-footed points on animal cruelty, or hens contributing to climate change?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Evo, the alternate protein startup based in India and the US, has boiled eggs which can be grilled, fried or pickled just like a chicken egg. Made of pea, rice proteins and seaweed extract, with no cholesterol, it promises to function and taste like a non-processed egg. Many well-wishers plead vegans not to remove eggs from their diets. I guess they now have expensive, processed choices.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/faux-egg-anyone.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/faux-egg-anyone.html Sat Aug 13 12:37:25 IST 2022 navtej-sarnas-new-novel-is-delicate-yet-intense <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/navtej-sarnas-new-novel-is-delicate-yet-intense.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/135-Crimson-Spring-new.jpg" /> <p>Navtej Sarna’s Crimson Spring is set against the backdrop of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, one of the worst in the history of colonial rule. But at its heart is humanity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Told through nine characters, Crimson Spring is cinematic in its detail of the days before Brig Gen Reginald Dyer and his team turned their guns on the crowd and fired 1,650 rounds and the bloody aftermath that followed. There is Gurnam, the pleader, who on his white horse kept the crowd away from the railway track that divided the city into British cantonment and Indian town. Then there is Ralla Singh, who was baptised and chose the path of spirituality; Mehtab Singh, his brother-in-law; Lance Naik Kirpal Singh, who fought in Flanders fields; Maya Dei, the lone woman taking on the mantle of representing her gender on her frail shoulders; Sucha, a secret revolutionary who works as a compounder; Hugh J. Porter, who is inspired by J.P. Thompson, then chief secretary of Punjab, and Sergeant Nicholas Williams, who is based on William J. Anderson, Dyer’s personal bodyguard. And, there is Udham Singh, who years later killed Michael O’Dwyer, the civilian administrator who had called in the army to control the crowd.</p> <p>Sarna uses a slim book to bring the sweep of history. It brings alive the time of 20th century Punjab, and the ferment—the Rowlatt Act, the plague, the soldiers returning home, the gurdwara reforms—and tells the story of a changing political landscape through the inner lives of his characters. He packs in fact with fiction to create a luminous novel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is a story that Sarna has lived with clearly. It has the weight of the collective memory of pain. It is also personal, where stories he heard of his family, like his grandfather resigning from government after the massacre, creep into his characters. Maya Dei’s earlier life is inspired from his father Mohinder Singh Sarna’s first Punjabi novel, Peerhan Malle Rah.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The retelling of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in history has always been told by the side of the empire or the colonised. Crimson Spring is about those who lost and lived. It is delicate yet intense.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maya Dei is based on Rattan Devi, the only woman who spent the night at the bagh, using a stick to beat the dogs that gathered. Her account of the night leaves a reader shaken. In Sarna’s world, she has a backstory—a husband who is a professor and her longing for a child.</p> <p>Sarna creates a world conjuring up Tibba, a fictional village with its akhara (wrestling pit) and thekha (liquor shop) that exist side by side. The language is lyrical, like the language of Punjab. So there is Jind who tells her brother Ralla that you don’t tell stories during the day or travellers lose their way. Then there is the unborn moon, all offering a flavour of a language that was once known for its sweetness, its poetry of Bulleh Shah, not of Honey Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sarna uses Udham Singh’s sacrifice to give the bloody side of independent fighters—a space in the largely peaceful struggle. From Punjab as from Bengal, the memory of their sheer determination has been lost, blunted by peace. These were men of purpose, but also of conscience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sarna writes with gentleness, he writes to remember, he writes for his readers to never forget the Punjab of his ancestors. And with Crimson Spring, he successfully ensures that the memory lives on. Not just as fact, but as grief.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Crimson Spring</b></p> <p><i>Author</i> <b>Navtej Sarna</b></p> <p><i>Publisher</i> <b>Aleph Book Company</b></p> <p><i>Price</i> <b>Rs899</b> Pages <b>295</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/navtej-sarnas-new-novel-is-delicate-yet-intense.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/navtej-sarnas-new-novel-is-delicate-yet-intense.html Sat Aug 13 12:33:23 IST 2022 mohsin-hamids-the-last-white-man-looks-beyond-hate-and-broken-systems <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/mohsin-hamids-the-last-white-man-looks-beyond-hate-and-broken-systems.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/136-Mohsin-Hamid-new.jpg" /> <p>Mohsin Hamid, the Lahore-born British-Pakistani writer, burst into the literary scene at the turn of the millennium with his first book, Moth Smoke. The 51-year-old threw open to the world the unseen Pakistan—of adultery, drugs, scandal and crime–that had never really been told. His second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was very much the book of the post 9/11 world, and it firmly established him as a writer to be taken seriously. Hamid’s latest book, The Last White Man, will be out later this month, and he calls it his most ambitious project, yet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a freewheeling chat on Zoom, Hamid explains that The Last White Man is a response to the current times. His hero, Anders, is a white man who wakes up one morning and realises that he has become brown. “He is shocked and upset. And he is hoping that this has not actually happened,” says Hamid. “The novel progresses from there, where this predicament and anger start to spread.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hamid straddles multiple continents. He lives in America, carries a British passport, but is Pakistani. Like Anders, he inhabits a world that exists everywhere, but belongs nowhere. And it is impossible not to draw parallels with Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa turns into a cockroach, just like Anders turns brown.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anders first tries to hide his brownness. But he soon understands that “he was not sure he was the same person. He had begun by feeling that under the surface it was still him. Who else could it be? But it was not that simple. The way people act around you changes what you are, who you are...,’’ writes Hamid.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Hamid, it is personal, and also political. The tragedy of 9/11 changed America, and it changed Hamid, too. It also changed the world for him. Till then, he had inhabited an elite world. But it all changed with the attack. “I would go to the airport, and they would pull me out of the line for an incredibly detailed security check,’’ says Hamid. “They would put me in a room by myself for hours waiting. And then they would ask me all these questions. If I get onto a bus during the weekend, unshaven with a backpack, people would be uncomfortable, and would sometimes move seats. It was a profound sense of loss that I experienced. I wanted to go back to how it was before. And I was hoping that things will be normal, again.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book, which is deeply unsettling, explores the loss of whiteness for Anders and the bewilderment it brings, mirroring the writer’s own experiences. Says Hamid, “As years went by, I began to ask myself, ‘What have I lost?’ What is this thing that I wanted to reverse? And I realised that despite having brown skin and a Muslim sounding name, I benefited from many of the advantages of a partial whiteness. And I started thinking, ‘Is this something I should want back?’ There was the system, which had partially allowed me to belong. Was this something that I should desperately want to see restored?’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the central question that confronts Anders, and the reader. And there are no easy answers. Hamid has moved from being an optimist to someone determinedly trying to find a way to optimism. It is an attempt from within to imagine a different way of living, beyond hate and the broken systems. “This book is about what if there is nowhere left to flee to,’’ says Hamid. “That is where I think the imagination comes into play. When there is nowhere left to go, you start playing in your imagination. And so, in a sense, fiction and literature are in response to this predicament.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Last White Man</b></p> <p><i>By</i><b> Mohsin Hamid</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Penguin Random House India</b></p> <p><i>Price</i> <b>Rs599</b> <i>Pages</i> <b>192</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/mohsin-hamids-the-last-white-man-looks-beyond-hate-and-broken-systems.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/mohsin-hamids-the-last-white-man-looks-beyond-hate-and-broken-systems.html Sat Aug 13 12:27:05 IST 2022 engaging-narrative <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/engaging-narrative.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/8/13/137-Indias-Vaccine-Growth-Story-new.jpg" /> <p>How did the horse breeders, the Poonawallas, become the biggest vaccine manufacturers in the world? In 1966, Cyrus S. Poonawalla’s mare was bitten by a snake. Government regulations were so complicated that by the time the antivenom arrived from the Haffkine Institute in Mumbai, the animal had died. Poonawalla decided to make serum himself, and founded the Serum Institute of India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sajjan Singh Yadav’s book is replete with stories about the history of vaccination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He tells the story of three-year-old Anna Dusthall, the producer of the first smallpox vaccine in India. In 1802, she was inoculated with cowpox vaccine and developed blisters. Doctors removed fluid from her pustules, to inoculate other children. Much before animals were used, vaccines were produced in the bodies of small children for almost a century.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yadav, a finance ministry official, has a doctorate in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He writes in a simple fashion with short chapters, and a narrative shorn of drama.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From the dawn of vaccination to the world’s largest vaccination programme—India’s Covid-19 vaccination, Yadav tells stories of triumphs and failures. He discusses how the digital vaccination platform was formed. He discusses vaccine hesitancy and vaccine eagerness, vaccine diplomacy and international competition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite its text-bookish appearance, this is a rather good read in these times, when vaccination is up there in everyone’s mindspace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>India’s Vaccine Growth Story: From Cowpox to Vaccine Maitri</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Sajjan Singh Yadav</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Sage Publishing</b><br> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs595</b> <i>Pages</i> <b>264</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/engaging-narrative.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/08/13/engaging-narrative.html Sun Aug 14 10:08:16 IST 2022 with-marvel-movies-the-brief-is-precise-says-a-zal <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/with-marvel-movies-the-brief-is-precise-says-a-zal.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/7/30/63-A-Zal-new.jpg" /> <p>When Ashish R. Shukla’s Prague (2013) released, it was like summer showers in winter—refreshing yet unexpected. The psychological thriller —about the inner conflict of a man (played by Chandan Roy Sanyal) whose mind turns rogue—was quite unlike the masala potboilers churned out by Bollywood at the time. The reviews were mixed. Indian audiences had not yet developed a palate for narratives that veered too far from the norm. But the film still won a cult following. And much of the credit goes to the music by Atif Afzal, aka A-Zal, that complemented the experimental nature of the film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tracks like ‘Dirt &amp; Game’ that blended electro and techno beats pulsated with energy. You felt like you were careening down a highway at reckless speed, and life all around had turned into a blur. The song ‘Din Kabhi’, with its heavy rock base, bracketed the philosophical underpinnings of the lyrics. The song is earthy, grounded, almost angry.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nine years later, A-Zal, 37, has changed gears. His songs in Ms Marvel— ‘Aye Khuda’ and ‘Dheemi Dheemi’—are soft and dreamy, with a touch of sufi. For a few brief minutes, you feel that you are at the threshold of something momentous, something worth fighting for. After all, the songs are soundtracking the life of an innocent teenage girl, rather geeky, who is just discovering the curveball that is coming her way. ‘Aye Khuda’, for example, is played when the romance between the protagonist Kamala (Iman Vellani) and Kamran (Rish Shah) is just budding. “My brief for ‘Aye Khuda’ was that it should be very pure,” says A-Zal. “Our first love is always the purest. It has no hidden motives. With Marvel movies, the brief is very precise. There are no grey areas open to interpretation. They were clear that although Kamala is very young, they did not want a song which a girl her age would listen to. No EDM or a single vocalist singing with a guitar. They wanted something deep and meaningful, while at the same time, very innocent.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From Prague to Ms Marvel, A-Zal has evolved as much as his music. He caught the music bug as a child. One of his earliest music memories is that of him as an 11-year-old, playing the harmonica in the back of the school bus with a friend. He grew up listening to grunge, rock, pop and metal. He was part of many bands, but did not consider music as a career. A brilliant student, he studied electronic engineering, came second in his university and was one out of 150 people who got selected to the multinational accounting firm, KPMG. After three years though, he knew he wanted to do something else. “The love for music was always there, but the love for life started when I was 25,” he says. “That’s when I took the decision to leave KPMG. If I needed to live my life, I knew I needed to do something I loved.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The hardest part was convincing his parents. They gave him two years to make it in the music industry. If not, he promised to return to his corporate career. “So, I left the company on August 6, 2010,” he says. “I tried a lot, but nothing worked out. As the two years were coming to an end, I knew I had to honour the promise I had made my parents. And then, just as I was nearing the deadline, Prague happened in 2012.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prague was followed by films like Pune 52 (2013), Baji (2015) and Monsoon Shootout (2013). After Monsoon Shootout went to Cannes, he got many offers in Bollywood, but by then he had started dreaming bigger. If he could make it in Bollywood, then why not Hollywood? He first came to Los Angeles in 2014 with the hope of assisting Hans Zimmer, the legendary composer of films like The Lion King, Gladiator and Interstellar. “Believe it or not, I booked an Airbnb two blocks from Zimmer’s studio in Santa Monica,” says A-Zal. “I had no appointment, but I just knocked on the door. He was kind enough to give me his card. He told me to email him and get an appointment. I did that. I cannot imagine something like that happening in India. You definitely need connections to get to someone like Karan Johar.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite successfully interviewing with Zimmer, A-Zal could not move to the US at the time because he did not have a work permit. That was a real bummer, but it did not hinder his dreams. Eventually, he did move to America, and then it was back to the grind. After months of not hearing back from filmmakers, he was on the brink of giving up. If it was not for an uncle in Canada who believed in him and urged him to keep going, he would have come back to India, he says. Eventually, he got his break with CBS’s NCIS Los Angeles, followed by The Twilight Zone. Afterwards, Marvel came calling with the Tom Hiddleston-starrer Loki, and then, Ms Marvel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whether it is the gripping, new-age music of Monsoon Shootout (for which he recorded live cello with Russian artists over Skype) or the soulful and surreal number in Loki, inspired by hymns recited in Arabian mosques, A-Zal’s greatest strength, perhaps, is his ability to adapt his music to what the filmmakers require. For that, he has learnt instruments like the oud and the djembe. “I learnt how to orchestrate a string quartet,” he says. “I learnt everything from the flute to the violin to the piano, not to become a pianist, but to understand the instrument and how it works.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And now, he is working on his dream project—a new album titled Seventeen and Eleven Nights—with a production team that has worked with the likes of Justin Bieber and David Guetta. He calls it the best work of his career. “I did not have a brief to follow or a character to study. I am the character, the face, the voice,” he says. “It is about me and my journey. When you are scoring for a Ms Marvel, people will love your music for something, but this is music for yourself. You are just putting yourself out there and talking to the audience. And that is really important for me.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/with-marvel-movies-the-brief-is-precise-says-a-zal.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/with-marvel-movies-the-brief-is-precise-says-a-zal.html Sun Jul 31 11:21:09 IST 2022 man-vs-machine <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/man-vs-machine.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/7/30/66-Man-vs-machine.jpg" /> <p>Google recently fired software engineer Blake Lemoine for violating “employment and data security policies”. He had earlier gone public saying that a technology the company was developing had achieved sentience—the ability to perceive or feel things. Lemoine shared his concerns on the online publishing platform Medium and in an interview with The Washington Post in June.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Google denied that the technology in question, LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), had achieved sentience. A sophisticated chatbot, LaMDA can generate a response that fits the context of any message. It has been through 11 separate reviews, and Google published a research paper on it in January.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many experts say LaMDA is not advanced enough to be sentient. In fact, it was designed to mimic humans and it was doing exactly that. However, the whole episode has triggered a debate on the evolution of artificial intelligence. Of late, AI has taken big strides because of the huge amounts of data collected and analysed. And it has become smart enough to collect the correct information and give accurate results. Machines are definitely becoming intelligent, but that does not make them sentient.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then there is the broader ethical debate. We are becoming more and more dependent on AI to take critical decisions, even those that would put lives at risk. AI is increasingly being used in situations where decisions can be consequential, like in wars and in hospitals. While some experts argue that AI helps take better decisions, others say its inability to understand the experience of being alive can cloud its recommendations.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/man-vs-machine.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/man-vs-machine.html Sat Jul 30 12:40:14 IST 2022 kachori-and-cranberry <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/kachori-and-cranberry.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/7/30/66-Cranberry-and-cashew-samosa-chaat.jpg" /> <p>I want to make a case for cranberries. To consider America’s original superfood as a replacement for kismis (raisins). Both wrinkled morsels—from ruddy red to a spectrum of brown to black—they suddenly seemed interchangeable on a rainy Saturday afternoon when Social (of Impresario Handmade Restaurants) stuffed them in the mushy fillings of kachoris and samosas. Chef Shamsul Wahid, group executive chef at Impresario, which also owns the Smokehouse Deli chain, waved a magic wand and dropped the most delectable breakfast bombshell—cranberry in never-before-seen avatars. Think dal and cranberry kachoris with fenugreek chutney; cranberry moongode vade with mint chutney; cranberry and cashew samosa chaat; keema pao paired with cranberry garlic chutney and cranberry relish; and the pulled mutton nihari with cranberry baos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India is not suitable for growing these swollen ruby-like berries, with the US, Canada and Chile accounting for almost all of the production. But India is a top importer, with shipments from the US worth $2.44 million in 2020-21 (April to November) more than the previous year. While most of us first learnt of the fruit as the sherry-coloured sauce that is de-rigueur on a Thanksgiving table, gourmands in India have been adding their desi twist to the berries, in chutneys to pickles, expertly harnessing its tannins for some delectable tartness. But the Social menu this time deftly expands the repertoire for the Indian palate. “The chaturmas or the four months of monsoon have inspired playfulness and creativity in the larger artistic tradition, including in food. The idea of this menu, ‘Garam Nashta, Rimjhim Bochar with US Cranberries’, is to celebrate this playfulness even as we incorporate a new and versatile ingredient—cranberries—into traditional nashtas (snacks),” says Anoothi Vishal, the food historian and author who curated the limited-edition, all-day breakfast menu in collaboration with US Cranberries. It will be available in 10 Social outposts across the country till August 15.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/kachori-and-cranberry.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/kachori-and-cranberry.html Sat Jul 30 12:35:06 IST 2022 how-little-miss-and-mr-men-creatives-went-viral <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/how-little-miss-and-mr-men-creatives-went-viral.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2022/7/30/67-Little-Miss-and-Mr-Men-1.jpg" /> <p>Many consider social media platforms as the best place to express themselves. And some see these expressions as part of their healing process. “The Little Miss” and “Mr Men” creatives, which are flooding Instagram and TikTok, are one such trend or “emotional therapy” for social media users across the world, along with fun and nostalgia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A spinoff of the Mr Men and Little Miss children’s book series of the 1970s and 1980s, social media users are now using the colourful, four-legged miniature creatures to talk about their personality traits, mental health and insecurities. Created by British author-illustrator Roger Hargreaves, each book in the Mr Men and Little Miss series introduced a new character and their specific personality trait to convey a moral lesson. The first character Hargreaves created was Mr Tickle—a yellow creature sporting a blue hat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The current social media trend was ignited by the Instagrammer, @juulpuppy. Her “Little Miss Borderline Personality Disorder”, “Little Miss Neurodivergent Stripper” and “Little Miss Irritable Bowel Syndrome” became an instant hit. Though it started on Insta, the trend became massively popular on other social media platforms, too. On TikTok, Gen Z-ers created short videos describing themselves, their exes or their friends as Little Miss or Mr Men characters. The hashtag #LittleMiss has over 40 million views on TikTok currently. Restricting prefixes to Mr or Miss or tying Women to “little” is not in tune with the ideas of the “woke” generation. So, ‹Mx› is widely used in the trend as the prefix for gender-neutral characters.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/how-little-miss-and-mr-men-creatives-went-viral.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2022/07/30/how-little-miss-and-mr-men-creatives-went-viral.html Sat Jul 30 12:30:32 IST 2022