Leisure http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure.rss en Sun Dec 11 11:18:13 IST 2022 https://www.theweek.in/privacy-an-settlement.html exhibition-of-the-works-of-dutch-artist-vincent-van-gogh <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/exhibition-of-the-works-of-dutch-artist-vincent-van-gogh.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/2023/3/25/63-Van-Gogh.jpg" /> <p>In the winter of 1884-85, Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh painted his first multi-figured, large-scale composition―’The Potato Eaters’―depicting the harsh reality of country life by capturing a peasant family sharing a meal. Van Gogh said he wanted to portray peasants who “have tilled the earth themselves, with the same hands they are putting in the dish... that they have thus honestly earned their food”. At the time, the painting was criticised for its coarse style and the darkness of the figures. Since then, it has become one of his most famous works. Now, an exhibition―the Van Gogh 360° Immersive Art Experience―aims to animate the five peasants in the painting. They lift their mugs and nod at you―as though silently agreeing with something you just said. From a viewer, you have become a guest in his painting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exhibition debuted at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai earlier this year and now travels to Delhi from April 14 to May 31. To see a painting is one thing; to live inside it is quite another. And that is what Van Gogh 360° strives to do―to give you a joyride inside the fantasy land that was the Dutch artist’s mind. So, his sunflowers and almond blossoms sway to the wind’s rhythm, the stars from his ‘Starry Night’ twinkle merrily, crows flap their wings, and leaves float to the ground. The extensive projections of Van Gogh’s post-impressionist works fill the walls, the ceilings and the floors. Your body, too, becomes his canvas. It is almost a psychedelic experience to look down and find butterflies perched on your arms. Moonlight from his paintings stabs you and flowers sprout on the tilled field of your skin. Ticket prices start at Rs699. Inside, you can lounge on the benches or lie on the floor to get the full Van Gogh experience. The immersion runs on a loop of 45 minutes and one can stay for as long as one likes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Van Gogh became an artist at the age of 27. Within 10 years (1880-1890), he had produced nearly 900 paintings and 1,100 works on paper. For him, his art was a reprieve from a life weighed down by mental illness, suicidal tendencies and a feeling of worthlessness. On July 27, 1890, he shot himself in the chest. The fame he never achieved in life came calling upon his death. By the beginning of World War I, Van Gogh had come to be regarded as one of the finest artists in the history of modern art.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Festival House Inc, the Canadian events company which brought Van Gogh 360° to India, says that they got in touch with a “talented animator” who selected the paintings from his body of work and animated them to an original soundtrack. The exhibition was developed over an eight-month period. However, many who have visited similar immersive exhibitions in the US say that although the experiences are comparable, a lot is missing. “Unlike the Van Gogh 360° exhibition in the US which we visited, here there is no 3D replica of Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles (southern France) or a colouring station for children or any virtual reality experience,” says Charu Khurana, a Mumbai-based fashion designer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The organisers are rectifying many of the shortcomings at the Delhi show. “The Mumbai show was our first,” they told THE WEEK. “The Delhi edition will include a lounge space, a bar sponsored by Absolut Glassware, and an area for children’s creative expression.” Earlier, Van Gogh 360° India’s spokesperson, Nikhil Chinapa, had shared that the event had received a warm welcome and that the “level of interest from schools, as well as young content creators, shows that immersive art is an excellent platform to introduce global art to the younger generation.” On display are some of the artist’s greatest works―including ‘The Starry Night’, the ‘Sunflower’ series, ‘Almond Blossom’, and ‘The Night Cafe’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exhibition begins with an introduction about the life and times of the post- impressionist painter. It covers his deteriorating mental health, his letters to his brother, the urge to paint as a form of escapism and his eventual suicide in the wheat fields where he would otherwise sit and paint. It describes him as a lonesome figure who did not set out to paint, but almost stumbled into it. Destiny, in the end, was too potent a power to resist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While there was enough focus on the artist, what was missing in Van Gogh 360° was a deep-dive into his art. One does get an idea about his personal anguish and the social tensions that influenced his work, but one does not get to enjoy the nuances of his style and technique. However, the organisers say that the exhibition is only meant to introduce you to Van Gogh’s work, not to cultivate an appreciation of its finer points, which is the work of museums. “The vibrancy and details of Van Gogh’s artwork are powerful and can be effectively portrayed in an immersive environment. At a museum, it may be possible to delve deeper into the art side of things, whereas immersive art exhibitions like Van Gogh 360° are about democratising art and making it more accessible for the layman,” they say.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, the debate continues whether an artist of Van Gogh’s brilliance requires an “immersive experience”. But there is no denying that it is always enjoyable to witness genius in a transactional way, and to find oneself entangled in his world. To see the mist blur the margins of his mountains. To smell the aroma of cypress and cedar in his orchards. To inhabit the sunlit corners of his imagination.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/exhibition-of-the-works-of-dutch-artist-vincent-van-gogh.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/exhibition-of-the-works-of-dutch-artist-vincent-van-gogh.html Wed Mar 29 17:19:20 IST 2023 india-s-first-woman-skydiver-rachel-thomas-autobiography-limitless <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/india-s-first-woman-skydiver-rachel-thomas-autobiography-limitless.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/2023/3/25/67-Rachel-Thomas.jpg" /> <p>It was 7:45pm on April 20, 2002, but at the northernmost part of the world, the day shone bright like a burnished copper coin. From the Barneo Ice Airport, a group of skydivers had been flown to Point Zero at the North Pole. Rachel Thomas was one among them and she was on a mission: To create history by becoming the first woman skydiver to plant the tricolour on the North Pole. As she awaited her turn, she could see the world unfurl below her. To her, it seemed like it had all been building up to this moment. She could almost picture her life’s story scribbled on the surface of the frozen ocean. “The visual was cloudy and blurred, but my memories were as transparent as crystal, as indomitable as the nothingness I was about to jump into,” she writes in Limitless, her recently-released autobiography. As the jump-master cried ‘go’, she got up and did what she was born to do: Fly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thomas did her first jump in 1979 at the age of 22, when she was married to an Army officer and had two young children to take care of. At a party of the Parachute Regiment in Agra, the discussion was on the new training institute for skydiving that was being set up. When a French instructor asked if there were any female takers for skydiving classes, Thomas found herself volunteering, almost against her will. At 11:30am on April 20, she did her first jump… and it did not turn out well. She found herself hanging mid-air from the strut of the aircraft. Her instructor was terrified that the parachute bag would open and damage its wing, thus endangering all. Because her hands were so sweaty, Thomas slipped. Luckily, she had enough wits about her to pull the rip-cord handle of the parachute. She floated down to the ground, her confidence punctured, but not her determination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, if Thomas’s life story were to be summarised in one word, it would be exactly that―grit. As a Padma Shri awardee, a competitor at world championships, an international judge of skydiving and a TEDx speaker, Thomas has much to boast about. But her tale is more about trial than it is about triumph. When there have been so many setbacks in your journey, reaching your destination becomes even sweeter. “Life is all about choice, not chance,” she tells THE WEEK. “It was by chance I happened to be in that group that night at the party, but it was my choice to join the course.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The challenges began soon after she got her ‘A’ licence in skydiving. There was the seemingly trivial―like the time she travelled for a skydiving demo in a Bajaj Tempo Matador from Agra to Gandhinagar. She was the only woman among 10 men, which presented sundry problems, like the need to find thick foliage by the roadside when she needed to relieve herself. “The men went in one direction, and I went in the other,” she writes. “Those were extremely embarrassing moments, and only added to the toughness of the journey.” But more significant was the chauvinism she found embedded in the system. Like the time she was not nominated as a delegate for the International Parachuting Competition in Norway, despite helping India win the bid for hosting it the previous year in 1994. She also spearheaded the preparations, which included countless trips from Agra to Delhi, overcoming bureaucratic red-tape and getting all the requisite clearances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Limitless is written with disarming honesty. Thomas holds nothing back, including details of her broken marriage, how her daughter blamed her for the divorce and all the times she failed professionally. Although some passages are too technical for lay readers, there is heart in the narrative. What comes through is a woman who does not hide her vulnerabilities, neither does she hide behind them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have gone through a lot,” she says. “It hurts to feel the carpet being pulled from under your feet. I don’t think anyone would have been able to pull off the IPC in India without clout. I did not have any clout. I never had a sugar daddy or anything like that. I would just go straight to the authorities and say, this is what I want to do. You tell me the rules and I will keep it. [To become a professional skydiver], people do at least a thousand jumps with a trainer. I had none of this. But whenever I faced an adverse situation, it only made me stronger.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This never-say-die attitude was programmed into her from a young age, when she would only want to romp around with the boys. Playing with dolls or baking cakes never interested her. “Fifty-seven years ago, when I was a child, our kites did not have the capability to cut other kites,” she says. “So the boys would pound glass and tell me to mix it into wheat flour and help them paste it on the strings. They would not let me play with them unless I did that. From my childhood I would do everything I could to prove that I was one of them. I never gave up just because I was a girl.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Perhaps her dreams came true when her perseverance met her passion. As a child, she would spend hours looking at eagles, and wonder how they could glide in the air without flapping their wings. Even then, she had her head and her heart in the clouds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Limitless</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Rachel Thomas</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Readomania</b></p> <p><i>Pages</i> <b>190</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs450</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/india-s-first-woman-skydiver-rachel-thomas-autobiography-limitless.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/india-s-first-woman-skydiver-rachel-thomas-autobiography-limitless.html Sat Mar 25 12:17:08 IST 2023 the-indian-president-an-insider-s-account-of-the-zail-singh-years-k-c-singh-book-review <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/the-indian-president-an-insider-s-account-of-the-zail-singh-years-k-c-singh-book-review.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/2023/3/25/68-The-Indian-President-new.jpg" /> <p>Rubber-stamp presidents have been many, copybook presidents a few, corrective presidents fewer, but activist presidents? Only one―Giani Zail Singh. He alone dared to even think of dismissing a prime minister who enjoyed the confidence of the house of people, but not the confidence of his president. And he alone had the ingenuity to keep a bill, that was sent to him for assent, in his pocket and do nothing. The incident gave rise to a new phrase in the lexicon of constitutional practice―‘pocket veto’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zail himself has written about it and more in his memoirs, but that account is a totally self-justifying narration of the pangs of an injured mind. On the other hand, former ambassador K.C. Singh, who was on Zail’s presidential staff through his term, gives a more dispassionate yet sympathetic narrative of what was happening in and around the Zail Singh Rashtrapati Bhavan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apparently, the distrust between Zail and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had begun much before Rajiv was catapulted to prime ministership following his mother’s assassination. It reportedly began with Zail’s move to restore Andhra Pradesh chief miniter N.T. Rama Rao, who had been dismissed by Governor Ram Lal at the behest of Rajiv’s cohorts led by Arun Nehru. Indira apparently was unaware of the goings-on, and to her credit she stood with the president in the episode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to K.C. Singh, Indira held Zail in high esteem. As long as she was alive, the group could not raise its head. The distrust came out in the open during Rajiv’s PM-ship. It worsened after the Coomar Narain spy ring, involving men in both the PMO and Rashtrapati Bhavan, was busted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first part of the book is about Zail’s presidency in general, where the author compares between presidents, and tests many of them against the Zail touchstone. He rates Zail high over the NTR episode, over his dignified non-action after Operation Blue Star, and several other instances. The second part is all about the Zail presidency. Both parts are rich in anecdotes, several of them amusing and even funny, involving the men who straddled the corridors of power during Indira’s final years and Rajiv’s five years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first part, however, is richer in terms of the insight that it gives into the working of the office of the president under earlier and some of the later presidents. The author has relied on sources other than his own experience in this, yet has taken pains to compare and contrast those with what he experienced during the Zail presidency. He recounts how Lal Bahadur Shastri and Gulzarilal Nanda mismanaged the national language issue, leading to riots in the south, and had to be rebuked by President Dr S. Radhakrishnan; how Jawaharlal Nehru used to consult presidents Rajendra Prasad and Radhakrishnan; and how even the otherwise highly rated A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee could not stand up to the high standards of corrective presidency when pressed to dismiss the Bihar and Uttarakhand assemblies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In K.C. Singh’s estimate, while Zail might have been an activist president, Radhakrishnan and K.R. Narayanan come out as near-perfect presidents who turned active when they thought their governments were erring. Shankar Dayal Sharma, too, is regarded in high esteem, and so is V.V. Giri.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The best thing about the book is that every analysis is supported with anecdotes, several of them amusing, culled out from first-hand experience and extensive research. A must-read for anyone interested in the constitutional and political history of India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Indian President: An Insider’s Account of the Zail Singh Years</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>K.C. Singh</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>HarperCollins</b></p> <p><i>Pages</i> <b>275</b> <i>Price</i> <b>Rs699</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/the-indian-president-an-insider-s-account-of-the-zail-singh-years-k-c-singh-book-review.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/the-indian-president-an-insider-s-account-of-the-zail-singh-years-k-c-singh-book-review.html Sat Mar 25 12:09:02 IST 2023 actor-and-director-nandita-das-interview <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/actor-and-director-nandita-das-interview.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/2023/3/25/70-Kapil-Sharma-with-Nandita-Das.jpg" /> <p>Actor and director Nandita Das’s latest film Zwigato has released in limited theatres. Based on India’s gig economy, it throws light on the staggering disparities between the haves and the have-nots. At the heart of the film is the story of Bhubaneswar-based gig worker Manas Singh Mahto (Kapil Sharma), and his wife, Pratima (Shahana Goswami). Mahto, a food delivery agent, gets into the profession after losing his job as a factory floor supervisor. Through Mahto’s everyday struggles, the film makes a commentary on the invisible lives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zwigato is Das’s third feature film as director after Firaaq (2008) and Manto (2018). In an interview with THE WEEK, Das talks about her new film and the gig economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Did the idea of the film come to you during the pandemic?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> Yes. In fact, it was the trigger for the film. During the pandemic, we, for our own convenience, became more and more dependent on the gig workers and less and less aware of their struggles. All of us ordered [food] during the pandemic, and seldom did we thank them, or rated them, or even acknowledged their existence. The film is also about many small things that were hidden in plain sight even before the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ What aspects of the gig economy fascinated and disturbed you?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> What has been intriguing is that there is a lack of anger, even though many of the riders admit to their struggles. They are aware of the long hours they have to work to make so little… how rise in petrol prices plays havoc in their lives. Yet, they remain optimistic about eventually getting better jobs. Most see gig work only as an interim means to earn a living or as an additional income.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There were many things that were quite shocking as we delved deeper into the subject. What moved me the most was their daily struggle―the slow chipping away of their dignity. They cannot say or demand anything as they are in the service industry and the ratings make them very vulnerable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ How did you visualise Sharma bringing the script to life?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/ </b>He looked the part and that was a good starting point. Through our interactions I knew there was a simplicity, a vulnerability and something real and rooted that would make the character of Manas very believable. I was just worried about Punjabi coming out of him! But he was up for the challenge. I gave him all his dialogues recorded by a person in Ranchi who said them in the correct dialect. He not only did it but also spoke much slower as the easterners do, as opposed to his racing Punjabi! He completely submitted to the process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ You have written, directed and co-produced the film. How challenging was it?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> I am a hands-on director, and I am completely involved in every department through the entire journey. And that’s the challenge and the fun of it! It is easier to be spontaneous with a script and dialogues that one has written, and so I can edit, delete, add at will! We shot at one go and finished in less than a month. For me work and life are not two separate entities. They are one, and, therefore, each of the things I do affects me as a person and my own personality affects my choices and work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Your last directorial was Manto in 2018. Is it a conscious decision to have long gaps between projects?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> Acting, writing, directing and producing… all have happened rather organically. I just worked with my instinct, dipping into my life experiences and observations that have, over the years, become an impulse. The compulsion to engage and find creative ways to share my concerns is what drives me. But I am not trained in any of them. So I take time to write and rewrite, put a project together. Also, I have done many other things in between the films in the last 14 years, including becoming a mother! Now I am a less hesitant director. I have multiple interests and concerns, and I feel no pressure to prove myself. I will also continue doing other things of interest like acting and my social advocacy work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Tell us about the influences and inspirations that have moulded your own storytelling over time.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> My parents are innately inclusive and altruistic and I’m glad they had a significant influence on me while I was growing up. In college, I had begun performing as an actor with Safdar Hashmi and his street theatre group, Jan Natya Manch. We would travel and perform at different places. I did my master’s in social work, which doesn’t necessarily make you a better social worker, but it exposes you to multiple different realities. I also worked in a couple of NGOs and they told me about human experiences and contexts that I was not so familiar with.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But the biggest influence is life itself. I am driven by the stories I want to tell. And these stories emerge from my work in various spheres of my life. Whether it’s my social advocacy work, the people I meet, the points of view I get to hear―all impact the subjects that I choose to make my films on, or the characters I want to portray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ When will we next get to see you as an actor?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> For the last few years, I have been busy directing films which have been all-consuming. But I did manage to squeeze in a guest appearance in Shaad Ali’s Call My Agent: Bollywood and in Venu Udugula’s Virata Parvam. I am certainly not opposed to acting but probably have become even more choosy. I have been getting a fair amount of acting work and now there are a couple that I am considering. So, hopefully, you will see me in front of the camera, too.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/actor-and-director-nandita-das-interview.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/25/actor-and-director-nandita-das-interview.html Sat Mar 25 12:05:07 IST 2023 osero-sopia-photography-camp-masai-mara-dileep-anthikad-remya-anup-warrier <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/osero-sopia-photography-camp-masai-mara-dileep-anthikad-remya-anup-warrier.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/2023/3/18/63-the-Osero-Sopia-Camp.jpg" /> <p>One day, wildlife photographer Dileep Anthikad was photographing a pair of black-crowned night herons at the Abu Nakhlah wetland in Qatar. Unknown to him, the same pair of birds were in the gunsights of a sport hunter. He took down the birds, leaving Dileep heartbroken.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The incident in 2009 set him thinking. Was empathy enough for the wild? Or, as a nature lover, was it on people like him to do more? These questions prompted Dileep to quit his job in the oil and gas industry to take up conservation. In 2014, he played a crucial role in setting Qatar’s first private nature reserve, Irkaya Farm, 50 kms west of Doha. In 2017, he helped develop the 1.2 lakh hectare Al Reem Biosphere Reserve, 65 km northwest of Doha. It is Qatar’s only reserve to be recognised by the UNESCO.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dileep’s love for wildlife prompted him to shift base to the Kenyan reserve of Masai Mara where he, along with conservationist and wildlife photographer Remya Anup Warrier, set up a river camp, Osero Sopia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the past 19 months, the simple-yet-cosy tents of Osero Sopia, in the middle of the 1,510 sq-km African savannah, are home to the two naturalists. They host guests, including hundreds of wildlife photographers, while playing an active role in conserving the robust wildlife.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dileep’s tryst with Masai Mara began in 2009. A Birdguides/BBC award-winning photographer (2010), Dileep had travelled all over Africa, but Masai Mara stayed with him. It was getting in touch with Remya that resulted in the idea of a river camp. She too came with rich experience in conservation. Based in Singapore, she had travelled to reserves across Africa, including to Mashatu game reserve of Botswana, where she did her wildlife field guide course. The idea of a river camp in Masai Mara was a dream for her, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The work began in earnest in October 2020. Leasing land along the Talek river was the first step. It was a mean task, considering that the site came with challenges one would face in a remote part of Africa. Covid was another blow but with help from friends and the Masai community, Osero Sopia river camp was up and running by mid-2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tents of Osero Sopia inspired by the magical sunset in Masai Mara and the ancient pyramid design of Africa are a reflection of Dileep’s vast field experience and Remya’s insight into nature’s art.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Photographers arrive here through the year and spend weeks watching wild animals from dawn to dusk. Dileep’s experience in grooming photographers and his field knowledge make him a veteran mentor, but he is not one to take Mara for granted. The cardinal rule: respect the space in everything, from preparing a territory for a photographer to lighting a fire at night. “It is sensitive, and we want it to be ethicWal. It is crucial to keep a safe distance from the animal. For instance, when a photographer encounters a predator going for kill, it is important that he stays a spectator and not spook predator or prey, despite the obvious excitement,” said Dileep. “We use our knowledge of animal behaviour to help photographers. If you want to catch a leopard in action, you should know its behaviour, its solitary nature and how it may choose to act in a given circumstance. A leopard perched on a tree with a kill is unlikely to come down anytime soon. Even if it comes down, we need to predict how it will behave, including which direction it may turn to.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are other technicalities, like the location of the sightings, where to position the vehicle, choosing the angle and background, and the effect of natural light. “This is especially important if the photographer wants to do something beyond a portrait. We believe a shot is best when it carries the imprints of the Mara habitat, be it the terrain or its famous sunrise, sunset and fog,” added Dileep.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Every session is a learning curve for the duo, too. They have founded an NGO for the conservation of local flora and fauna. “We learn about the nocturnal behaviour of predators, too,” Remya said. “We recently could observe the maternal instinct of a leopard. The big cat took great care of her cub for almost a year, before separating. This is rare since most leopards leave their cubs after six months. We often spotted her sharing her kill with her cub, but after the separation happened, the cub was just another competitor for food. We were amazed to watch mother and son fight over a kill.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Life in Osero Sopia is a lesson on how man can co-exist with wildlife. The duo mentions multiple encounters with wildlife inside their camp, including with elephants, hippos, leopards, and even lions. “Once we encountered a beautiful male bushbuck moving towards our tent. We followed it, but then the buck started running towards us, making alarm calls, indicating the presence of a predator. It was then we spotted the lion with a Zebra kill nearby,” Remya said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Life on the savannah can be challenging at times. They have dug wells for clean water and use solar power. Meat, vegetables and other essentials come from Narok town, or Nairobi. “We are probably the only Indian owners in Mara, serving the guests and nature alike,” said Dileep.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We adopted one Masai village in Olelemuttia to ensure they had food and other resources during the Covid period. A scholarship programme for children was also launched,” said Remya.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the hardships, their commitment to the cause keeps them going. “The wildlife heritage of Masai Mara belongs to all humanity with the great Masai tribe being its custodian. It is our responsibility to help them protect the abundant, yet vulnerable flora and fauna of this ecosystem,” said Dileep.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/osero-sopia-photography-camp-masai-mara-dileep-anthikad-remya-anup-warrier.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/osero-sopia-photography-camp-masai-mara-dileep-anthikad-remya-anup-warrier.html Sun Mar 19 12:04:44 IST 2023 mh370-the-plane-that-disappeared-series-review <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/mh370-the-plane-that-disappeared-series-review.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/2023/3/18/67-American-aviation-journalist-Jeff-Wise.jpg" /> <p>The first 40 minutes of MH370's flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, were uneventful. At 1:19am, the plane left Malaysian airspace. The pilot in command, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, one of the most experienced pilots of Malaysia Airlines, radioed Malaysian air traffic control: “Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero.” The sign-off “good night” indicates that a pilot is crossing over from one airspace to another. It was the last communication from the flight. Two minutes later, MH370, with 239 passengers and crew members onboard, disappeared from radar in “one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Almost a decade later, despite a massive international search by multiple countries, the plane and its black box have not been found. Now, Netflix tries to piece together the story in its latest docudrama, MH370: The Plane That Disappeared. The show is divided into three episodes―'The Pilot,' 'The Hijack,' and 'The Intercept'. In each episode, a controversial new theory explaining the disappearance is introduced. Even as aviation experts, engineers, data scientists, journalists and hobbyists give their take on what transpired that night, the result is always a dead-end. It is shocking that, despite advancements in satellite imagery, surveillance and tracking, the search remains inconclusive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As American aviation journalist Jeff Wise says in the show, “It is like an Agatha Christie mystery. Everyone in the manor house is now a suspect.” Could this be the work of Russian hijackers? An abduction attempt by North Korea? Or did a meteorite hit the plane? Could Shah have turned off all communication, depressurised the cabin and killed all onboard?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This last theory is explored in the first episode. In the second, Wise hypothesises that the Russians, to divert attention from the Crimean war, might have hatched a plan to enter the plane's electronic bay and tampered with the satellite data. The third episode delves into the possibility that the plane was shot down by the US military over the South China Sea to prevent a mysterious consignment from reaching China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Perhaps the most touching part of the series is the interviews with the relatives of those onboard. “The not knowing is the most horrible part of it,” says Danica, who lost her husband to the tragedy. Intan Othman, wife of Hazrin―a steward who was assisting the captain in the cockpit that night―recounts how her daughter keeps asking about her father. “If papa died, where is his grave?” she asks. Ghyslain Wattrelos, who lost his wife and two adolescent children, says, “Deep down, you are telling yourself they are still alive. For quite some time I kept communicating with them. They had their phones, so I kept sending them texts.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The sad part is that the series does not offer solutions, or even a glimmer of hope. It rekindles interest in the mystery, but that is all. There are no interviews with those who are currently in positions of power to throw light on why the issue died down, how the investigation has progressed or what is the possibility of ever solving this dark puzzle. This is a good watch for those who are not familiar with what happened on that fateful night. For those who lost their loved ones and those who have been closely following the story, the show offers little.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/mh370-the-plane-that-disappeared-series-review.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/mh370-the-plane-that-disappeared-series-review.html Sat Mar 18 17:28:30 IST 2023 chats-with-actress-isha-talwar <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/chats-with-actress-isha-talwar.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/2023/3/18/68-Isha-Talwar.jpg" /> <p>Back in 2012, a dialogue from the Malayalam film Thattathin Marayathu had an edge of hysteria. A love story, it dwelt upon discords in interfaith relationships. There is a scene where the Hindu protagonist, Vinod, (Nivin Pauly), describes his hijab-clad swain Aisha, (Isha Talwar), thus, “Olu aa thattum ittu kazhinjal ente saare, pinne chuttonnum kannan pattoolla [When she wears that hijab, my sir, you will not see anything else around you].” In a state like Kerala, which has become a symbol of religious coexistence, the dialogue did not offer any introspection, but there was an obvious devotion―for Aisha―enacted succinctly by Talwar, who, over the years, has evolved as an actor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a career spanning more than 10 years, Talwar has acted in close to 30 films and web series in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. In 2020, she earned accolades for her performance as Madhuri Yadav in Mirzapur 2, a web series that has a cult following. Today, Talwar has a line-up of projects across languages, including Rohit Shetty’s Indian Police Force (an action drama on Amazon Prime starring Sidharth Malhotra, Vivek Oberoi and Shilpa Shetty), Homi Adajania’s Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo (releasing in April 2023 on Hotstar) and Mirzapur 3, which will release soon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Said Talwar, “All said, Thattathin Marayathu remains my most innocent project till date. While we worked on the film, we never knew it would make such an impact. I have had people walk up to me, crying, at airports, shopping malls. The film and my character moved them.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Actor Vineeth Sreenivasan, who directed Thattathin Marayathu, has saved Talwar’s name in his phone as ‘Isha Aisha’. “That is how I saved her number in 2012 while we were making the film. I did not change it after that. It is nice to see Isha doing such amazing work with some of the most talented people in our country,” said Vineeth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Born and brought up in Mumbai, Talwar was smitten with Bollywood from a young age. And why not! Her father, Vinod Talwar, an executive producer, is a close associate of filmmaker Boney Kapoor. She faced the camera for the first time as a child actor in Satish Kaushik’s Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000), which starred Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and was produced by Boney Kapoor. Subsequently Talwar worked as a model in commercials, while also foraying into dancing. “In retrospect, I understand my journey was always to be an artiste. I did not choose to be a child actor. It just happened. I remember being as captivated by a film set when I was 11 years old as I am today. I remember Anil ji [Anil Kapoor] asking for his 45th take for a scene [from Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai], where he had to be really angry. I thought, ’wow, he just does not give up’. I did not know I would grow up to be an actor and behave the same way today,” said Talwar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though Talwar made her Bollywood debut with Kaalakaandi (2018), opposite Saif Ali Khan, it was the role of chief minister Madhuri Yadav in Mirzapur 2 (2020) that turned heads. She played the role with masterly finesse, much to the appreciation of a wider audience north of the Vindhyas. Mirzapur 2 came a year after Article 15, a critically acclaimed film on caste-based oppressions; Talwar played the role of actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s wife with grace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Whatever you see of me in Article 15, barring the songs, was shot in a day. Mirzapur 2 was a game-changer for me,” said Talwar, “I had an entire arc in the story. Something I had never got the chance to do before. Mirzapur 2 was the most rewarding experience for me. My perception changed for sure, but I want to let people know that I am not just a serious actor and I would like to explore lighter parts, too.” Like her role in Sharmaji Namkeen (2022), a comedy film which was actor Rishi Kapoor’s last film. Talwar played the role of Kapoor’s son’s lover. “I was thrilled to have briefly interacted with him [Kapoor] in the film. He was an extremely spontaneous actor and I think I need more of that in my acting,” said Talwar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the pandemic when cinema halls were closed, OTT brought a ray of sunshine into homes, with many films doing well across streaming platforms. Some were watched over and over again across the world with subtitles. Many of Talwar’s films were released on the OTT platform. So, is she in sync with OTT? “I think it is fairly clear that OTT has changed the game for all the industries and the audiences. I am just happy to be an actor in the middle of such big changes. If it was not for Mirzapur 2 on OTT, I don’t know how long my struggle to make a mark would have continued,” she said.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/chats-with-actress-isha-talwar.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/chats-with-actress-isha-talwar.html Sun Mar 19 11:48:54 IST 2023 four-books-that-look-at-the-trajectory-of-india-china-relations <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/four-books-that-look-at-the-trajectory-of-india-china-relations.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/2023/3/18/70-Tumultuous-ties.jpg" /> <p>From the Indian geo-strategic viewpoint, China is the dominant flavour of the season. It is the proverbial elephant in the room when stepping into the realm of Indian foreign policy and strategy. Four books, all dealing with the issue at hand, could almost be a continuous and naturally flowing narrative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vijay Gokhale’s After Tiananmen: The Rise of China, Manoj Joshi’s Understanding the India-China Border, Anil Bhat’s China Bloodies Bulletless Borders and Pravin Sawhney’s The Last War can easily fit into a temporal continuum―and in that order.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These books, written in the typically unique prose of the accomplished authors, hold out before the reader the past, present and possible future of a trajectory that describes the relationship between the two Asian giants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gokhale’s book traces the two decades of China just after the landmark event at Tiananmen Square in 1989. It chronicles the dizzying rise of China as an economic and military power and focuses chiefly on the interregnum of the period that had Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao at the helm before the arrival of Xi Jinping at the centre-stage of Chinese politics in 2013.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Joshi’s book draws us into the specifics of the India-China boundary question. Prefaced with nine maps, it delves into the intricacies that characterise the blurry India-China border or the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which stands undemarcated at many swathes. Joshi says the enduring threat of war remains high in the Himalayas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If Joshi’s book has an academic mould, Bhat’s book is a military man’s take on the boundary dispute. Keeping true to his mould, Bhat advocates buttressing of the nation’s defensive and offensive capabilities “to pay back the Chinese on all issues”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sawhney’s book uses an interesting setting to convey a disquieting prospect. Underlining the military asymmetry, he declares that in the event of a war, China can defeat India in about 10 days after taking over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh with Chinese disruptive technology overwhelming Indian infrastructure and networks in the first 72 hours itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sawhney says India has to pursue and develop its niche military capabilities, primarily Artificial Intelligence (AI), while talking peace with Pakistan and China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The four books would provide a 360-degree outlook to understand what ails the India-China bilateral relationship in its entirety, and is possibly a panacea to Indian military planners on what could be done.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/four-books-that-look-at-the-trajectory-of-india-china-relations.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/18/four-books-that-look-at-the-trajectory-of-india-china-relations.html Sat Mar 18 17:22:18 IST 2023 s-h-raza-paintings-and-studio-in-paris <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/s-h-raza-paintings-and-studio-in-paris.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/2023/3/10/63-Raza.jpg" /> <p>didn’t become a French painter or a European one. I remained an Indian painter through the years. That was always in my heart and I am very glad that I was able to come back here again.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opening of the Indian modernist painter Sayed Haider Raza’s retrospective last month at The Centre Pompidou, Paris, was a homecoming for the celebrated artist. Raza is the only Indian artist that has been shown at this prestigious venue. Born in Babaria, Madhya Pradesh, in 1922, Raza returned home to die and be buried alongside his father in Mandla, in 2016, months before his 94th birthday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The retrospective at The Centre Pompidou comprised 91 paintings and 86 documents; the vast expanse of Raza’s oeuvre was experienced. The exhibition began with the watercolours he did at the Sir J.J. College of Art, Mumbai, in 1940s, to the works executed in Paris―from 1950 to 2010, and finally the works done on his return to his beloved homeland―from 2010 to his death in 2016.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raza never gave up his Indian nationality, and for the 60 years of his life that he spent living in Paris his links with the country of his birth, his love for the spirituality and the deep connection he felt, never faltered.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raza said he learnt how to paint from France but what to paint from India. His early works in France were large cityscapes and later, in Paris, he started painting inscapes. A man of faith, Raza was a devout Muslim. After his marriage to artist Janine Mongillat he made it a point to respect his wife’s faith–Christianity―and went regularly to the church, Rue de Charonne, where Mongillat was baptised. Raza was accepted as a painter of the Parisian school, and it gave him recognition, audience and buyers. The creative companionship of his wife gave more confidence to Raza and many elements of the Parisian school were absorbed by Raza.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But Raza was constantly drawn to the landscapes of his homeland, particularly, Rajasthan, which he loved. The names of the artworks acquired specific Indian names―from Zameen to Saurashstra, Ankuram, Tarpan, and Shanti Bindu, to name a few.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On July 14, 2015, Raza was bestowed with the Ordre nationale de la Légion d’honneur, the highest French order of merit. “Though I was born in India and now happy to be back here, I have spent two-thirds of my life in France. France gave me for six decades a home, heart, and sustenance…. France provided me with an evocative ambience, inspiring confidence, in creativity and imagination, openness to ideas and innovation,” said Raza then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His friend for many years, and now the managing trustee of The Raza Foundation, Ashok Vajpeyi, the man behind the exhibition ‘Raza in Paris’, in his catalogue essay, refers to the painting ‘Maa’ carrying a line of poem that was ‘Motherland living far away in self chosen exile’. The Hindi and Sanskrit words used in some of the paintings are gentle reminders rooted in the soil of Raza’s motherland.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Raza’s close friend of 40 years, Vajpeyi said, “This is a homage to my friend. I did his first public exhibition at Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal, and the first major retrospective in his karmabhoomi Paris.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the catalog accompanying the exhibition at The Centre Pompidou, French art historian Laurent Le Bon, said, “The mid 1950s marked a turning point in Raza’s practice of painting as he abandoned gouache for oils, and painted only landscapes. He was avowedly changing course towards abstraction accumulating oils on canvas, in a manner in vogue at the time.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raza’s art was neither religious nor ritualistic. His studio in Paris exemplified Raza’s holistic, organic and spiritual thinking. His eclectic collection of objet d’art ranged from the numerous bronze statues of Lord Ganesha to a smooth shaligram, a Jain miniature painting, a copy of the Quran and Gandhi’s book on the Gita, the statuette of an erotic yakshi to a Rajput miniature painting hanging on one of his walls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exhibition at The Centre Pompidou was set up in a series of specific events. Soon after the well-attended opening on February 14, there was a parallel event, a small and intimate exhibition at the Musee Guimet where a small collection painted by Raza, centering around Mandalas, hung side by side with the thangkas of Himalayan art. An in-depth seminar around the works of Raza took place in the Petit Salle at The Centre Pompidou, where scholars, art historians and museum curators spoke about the artistic oeuvre of Raza.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The French ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, who was present at the opening and released the catalogue along with Vajpeyi and Bon, said that the Raza show was a continuing cultural bridge between India and France.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>―<b>Pande</b> is an academic, author and curator.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/s-h-raza-paintings-and-studio-in-paris.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/s-h-raza-paintings-and-studio-in-paris.html Fri Mar 10 15:48:20 IST 2023 sayed-haider-raza-book-review <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/sayed-haider-raza-book-review.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/2023/3/10/66-Three-Artists.jpg" /> <p>A big, black dot on a white wall of his school became his mind’s anchor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sayed Haider Raza had a wanderer’s soul since childhood; his mind never stayed put. For that matter, neither did his feet―it took him places, from the Gond forest in Madhya Pradesh to Gorbio in France and back to India. But his primary schoolteacher, Nandlalji Jharia, just wanted to momentarily still his mind and instil focus. And, that is why he drew that black dot on the wall. Raza was all of eight and the true meaning of that dot was lost on him then. But it always came back to him, when he was in what was then Bombay (his J.J. School of Arts days) and later during his sojourn in France. It finally broke free from his mind’s cage and landed onto his canvas in the form of ‘Bindu’―his leitmotif or as Raza called it “the very backbone supporting my body of work”. After his return to India―he lived in New Delhi―his work was largely about variations of ‘Bindu’. Life and, perhaps, his work had come full circle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The childhood anecdote about ‘Bindu’ finds mention in most of the initial essays in Sayed Haider Raza, edited by Raza’s poet friend Ashok Vajpeyi and published by Mapin Publishing with The Raza Foundation. Commemorating Raza’s 100th birth anniversary, the book starts with six essays, followed by notes by Raza and the letters he wrote to his second wife, artist Janine Mongillat, translated from French to English. It also has extracts and essays by eminent critics on Raza and snapshots of pages from Raza’s notebooks and of letters from other artists, ending with a catalogue of Raza’s works. But, to call the book a mere catalogue is like reducing Raza to just an artist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was so much more. An avid reader, he devoured the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus and found inspiration in the poetry of Kabir, Mirza Ghalib and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Poetry naturally flowed into his art. As Vajpeyi, life and managing trustee of The Raza Foundation, writes, “he is perhaps the only modern artist in India, in the world even, who has inscribed in nearly a hundred canvases lines and words of Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu poetry in Devanagari script”. One of Raza’s works―‘Maa’ (1981)―has an inscription in Hindi, “Maa, lautkar jab aaunga, kya laaunga [Mother, when I return home, what shall I bring]?” That is a line from Vajpeyi’s poem for his mother, which Raza adeptly used for motherland. And, just like in his art, there was poetry in his writing, too. ‘I Will Bring My Time’, the section dedicated to his love letters to his wife, has a side note by him: “I greeted the sun and asked it to smile at you.” That is French kiss in poetry for you!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is some overlapping of information in the book, but that is expected. One of the essays though, by art historian Ashvin E. Rajagopalan, does shed some light on Raza in the 1940s. As Partition divided a country, it divided his family, too―everyone, except him, his mother and first wife, left for Pakistan. He also worked as a designer in a commercial printing and design studio to sustain himself and his family. His mother died later, and he and his wife―divorced―went their separate ways, she to Pakistan and he to Paris.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Raza’s works were restricted to the contours of a canvas, it was never bound to form or medium―he moved from landscapes and geometrical forms to abstract shapes, and from gouache to oils and acrylic. The book does not just present his works but also the person behind them, who was not limited by language (he knew four), to places or in faith (a devout Muslim, he visited temples and churches).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So you may own a Raza, but you will never truly own him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>SAYED HAIDER RAZA</b></p> <p><i>Edited by</i> <b>Ashok Vajpeyi</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Mapin Publishing with The Raza Foundation</b></p> <p><i>Pages:</i> <b>296;</b> <i>price:</i> <b>Rs3,500</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/sayed-haider-raza-book-review.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/sayed-haider-raza-book-review.html Fri Mar 10 15:42:28 IST 2023 we-the-women-event-organised-by-barkha-dutt-speakers-topics <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/we-the-women-event-organised-by-barkha-dutt-speakers-topics.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/2023/3/10/68-Actor-Aditya-Roy-Kapur.jpg" /> <p>When New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon stepped down, it turned the spotlight on the pressures that women leaders face. In India, too, the discussion was carried forward by politicians like the BJP’s Kushboo Sundar, who was recently appointed to the National Commission for Women. At the sixth edition of We The Women―an event organised by award-winning journalist Barkha Dutt on March 4 in Jaipur―Sundar, a former actor, pointed out that men always find outspoken, bold, strong and beautiful women intimidating, and thus try to subjugate them in various ways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Men think beauty and brains don’t go hand-in-hand, especially in politics,” she said, recounting an incident when two former ministers started changing their lungis in a room in which she was the only woman. “I had to tell them, ‘Excuse me. There is a woman in the room’,” she said. “The response was that I had to get used to this if I was to be in politics.” The event, of which THE WEEK was a sponsor, featured women from different walks of life, from actors like Vidya Balan and Janhvi Kapoor to royals like Gauravi Kumari, princess of Jaipur. There were community leaders, business icons and Army officers elaborating on what it means to be a woman in their respective fields.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the gathering virtually. “Women in the public arena have historically been subjected to criticism and second-guessing,” she said. “However, social media has made it worse. The misogyny, sexism and the vicious personal attacks on social media have taken it to another level. So, you have to grow a thick skin. You have to accept that it is going to happen, and you can’t be overwhelmed by it. However, if your critics say something which is true, you can still learn from it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is not easy for women breaking into other male-dominated spheres either. Seema Rao―known as the “wonder woman of India”as she is the only woman commando trainer of the country―has trained male commandos from the Army, Navy, Air Force, special forces and parachute regiments for 25 years. At 18, Rao feared height, water and confrontations. However, she wanted to be physically strong and hence learned martial arts. She used to walk every morning. Once, while she was practising, three ragpickers made a vulgar comment. She ignored them and focused on her training. Afterwards, she faced the same men while returning home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I started walking quickly,” she recounted. “One of them suddenly blocked my way with a grin which said, ‘You are just a girl, what can you do?’ My fear gave way to anger, and I slapped him. He reeled back and then came rushing at me. I kneed him on the head. Another man brandished a knife and I ducked. That day, I understood that you either conquer your fear or your fear conquers you.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For celebrities like Balan, the challenge lies in asserting her rights. “Earlier on the set, I used to be the one who would adjust for everything,” she said. “If my co-star had to leave early, I would be okay with doing my close-ups last, settling for the smaller room or the van which was parked the farthest from the shoot. These are little things, but they are reflective of something. I needed to be liked and I needed to please everyone. I needed to overcompensate because I was successful.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking of a woman’s success, she stressed, “When we downplay ourselves, no matter how successful we are, [it is because] we don’t want to threaten the status quo, because that is what we have grown up with. It is tough to be successful, but it is much tougher to receive the success, to own it and live it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kapoor, Sridevi’s daughter, spoke about life after her mother. It has not been easy, as she did not get the validation from the audience that she earlier got from her mother. “People think of new things every day, and they must be applauded for their creativity,” she said. “Today, I am immune to criticism. I don’t let it get to me, but I remember reading something very hurtful once: ‘Thank God your mom passed before seeing you do such work’.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Shweta Bachchan-Nanda, the daughter of actors Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan, the struggle was to be accepted, as she was not an actor herself. “When you belong to such a space, someone may write something nasty, which does not mean anything to a hundred readers who are going to press the ‘like’button, but it is hurtful to someone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother,” she said. “So, I come from that sort of prejudice. I always tell my kids that I have a very thin skin and don’t want to read all these comments. So I never read them.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her daughter, Navya Naveli Nanda, too, opened up about being trolled. “Sometimes, it is good to have criticism, and to reflect on that,” she said. “Someone tweeted that I was not qualified to do what I was doing, because I was too young. At 25, I don’t know about the state of women and about health care or any other issue. I never really addressed it because I am focused more on my work.”For Nanda, age does not matter, since the majority of Indians are youngsters like her. “If the youth don’t talk about the issues that are affecting and concerning everyone, who will build the country?” she asked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The pressure is not easier on royals, either. Radhikaraje Gaekwad, the maharani of Baroda, is often asked when she is going to have a boy who can continue the family’s legacy. “My husband and I feel that it is time to bring change, and if I am consciously working for communities that are not having a voice, I am willing to do that for my own daughters, too,” she said. “I feel that if I am able to be a positive role model or leader for the city, the transition to my daughters will be more easily accepted.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kumari, 22, also had a similar experience to share. “There are stereotypes about being royal, about how and what we are doing, and what we are not doing,” she said. “Earlier, we had a purdah system where women were not allowed to step out and perform duties, and the same exists even today. Some people still think you are not supposed to perform a ritual, or attend a certain event or watch men do this or that. We need to break these stereotypes while also respecting the traditions.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/we-the-women-event-organised-by-barkha-dutt-speakers-topics.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/10/we-the-women-event-organised-by-barkha-dutt-speakers-topics.html Fri Mar 10 17:32:52 IST 2023 booker-prize-winner-jamaican-writer-marlon-james <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/booker-prize-winner-jamaican-writer-marlon-james.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/2023/3/3/89-Marlon-James.jpg" /> <p>This story is about the Jamaican writer Marlon James, but he is not its hero. Some might even call him its anti-hero. It was not always so. There was a time in his childhood when he believed in absolutes―in good and evil, truth and falsehood, heaven and hell….</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He remembers his childhood as a time of innocence, but also of sheer boredom. “I had a very 1980s suburban childhood,” he tells THE WEEK. “It’s funny, I have talked to writers in Sweden, Sheffield and Minneapolis, and one thing we all had in common was our childhood. If you lived in the suburbs, you had the same kind of childhood―the same kind of house, two working parents, two cars and you were raised by Madonna and Sesame Street. I was not lonely, but I was alone a lot. Like many writers, I spent a lot of time in the world of Marvel and DC comics than with actual people.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With his dreadlocks, oriental tang and air of gravitas, he does indeed look like a Marvel character―someone who inhabits a multiverse of his own making. In fact, that is exactly what he did when he was young. If he were to have a superpower, it would be his ability to disappear into books. “Both my parents left books around, but they never really cared whether I read them or not,” he says. “I remember reading Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and not understanding anything, but the book had pictures of naked people in it, which was great. I was turned on by reading, because a closed book felt like it had secrets, and I didn’t like secrets being kept from me. Of course, it meant reading a lot of bad books, but every now and then, I would come across something that would change my life, like Little House in the Big Woods or X-Men or Huckleberry Finn.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Around this time, he started struggling with his sexuality (he later came out as gay). As an adult, he could only think of one way out of his dilemma: religion. He joined a charismatic evangelical church and became involved in its activities. But the church only led him deeper into the rabbit hole of temptation, sin and guilt. It finally culminated in an exorcism, which he hoped would cure him. He told his deliverers about his addiction to pornography. They said they heard eight demons inside him, recited Bible verses and ordered the demons to come out. Then, they told him that he was free once and for all. For several months, he felt no temptation, but then it began creeping up on him. Soon, he went back to the porn, but this time, there was no guilt. As he said later, the exorcism had worked. It had just got rid of the wrong thing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The cycle of sin, guilt and repentance can be destructive,” he says. “It is important to look at what breaks it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Afterwards, he gave free rein to everything churning within him, and his preferred outlet was writing. There crept into it a sense of abandon. Nothing was sacrosanct anymore. Violence, sex, pornography―they all found a place in his prose. This uninhibitedness suffused not just the content of his writing, but also its structure. Much of it, including his Booker-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), has a roaming, labyrinthine quality to it. As though he created his characters and let them loose in the wilderness of his imagination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As one of them says in A Brief History, “At some point you gotta expand on a story. You can’t just give it focus, you gotta give it scope.” Well, mission accomplished. The book is divided into five sections, each recounting the events of a single day. The story is told through the perspectives of 75 characters―from street thugs to CIA operatives to journalists to ghosts―and meanders from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976, through the CIA’s growing distrust of Cuban socialism in the Caribbean island to the crack wars in New York and Miami. There are drug cartels, gang wars and gun shots reverberating throughout the novel. Reading it is no stroll in the park; it’s more like summiting Mount Everest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When he announced that he would be trying his hand next at African fantasy, some thought that he was going soft. After all, a herculean effort like A Brief History called for a break, right? Well, they thought wrong. The first two instalments of his trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019) and Moon Witch, Spider King (2022)―often billed as the “African Game of Thrones”―were as dense as any of his previous works, maybe even more so. In the books, Tracker and Sogolon clash wits as they traverse a mythical African land in search of a missing boy. What is even more confusing is that, just when you started seeing Tracker as the hero of the story, James changes gears. In Moon Witch, an entirely different account is told by the 177-year-old Sogolon, and you feel like your world has been dislocated at the joints.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In typical James fashion, Black Leopard starts with a disclaimer: “The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.” He seems to be dissuading us from the notion that the book is about some grand quest. Yet, it is. And the quest is not just for the child. It is like James is rummaging through his mythology for something that he himself is seeking. “We run back to our myths because in a lot of ways they have understood us better than we have,” he said at the Jaipur Literature Festival. “Whenever we ask the really big questions, we turn to them for answers.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite everything he says, one gets the sense that he is asking one of those questions. But no one, least of all him, knows what it is..</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/booker-prize-winner-jamaican-writer-marlon-james.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/booker-prize-winner-jamaican-writer-marlon-james.html Sat Mar 04 12:04:28 IST 2023 pakistani-actor-adnan-siddiqui-life-films-family <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/pakistani-actor-adnan-siddiqui-life-films-family.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/2023/3/3/92-Adnan-Siddiqui.jpg" /> <p>On the charm meter, Adnan Siddiqui has the force of a hurricane. As an actor, he is unmindful of the consequences of being absent from the public eye. On social media, his isms and asks have a separate, ever-growing fandom.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Siddiqui, 53, one of Pakistani entertainment industry’s best recognised faces, became India’s own in Mom (2017)―Sridevi’s last titular role before her demise in 2018. Ten years before Mom, Siddiqui starred alongside the late Irrfan Khan in A Mighty Heart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Siddiqui’s last Pakistani drama appearance was in the wildly popular Mere Paas Tum Ho (MPTH, 2019). His most recent television outing was in Tamasha (2022)―a daring format loosely based on Big Brother. It could have turned into a moral morass, what with men and women living in the same house for 43 days in a deeply conservative country. Puritans raised some ‘lapses’, such as contestants never shown praying on TV.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Siddiqui, however, says that he is but a nautankiya (entertainer) whose screen presence entails neither judgment nor education. “One’s relationship with the Almighty, be it Allah or bhagwan, is a private matter,” he says. “Who are we to interfere?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The introductory shot of Tamasha is of Siddiqui playing the flute―an instrument he loves as it soothes and relaxes. He carries it around the world and can leave you awestruck with his experimentations, such as teasing out ‘Hotel California’. He wanted to learn it professionally, but lessons were expensive. A flute cost just 040. “I thought it better to buy one and teach myself,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Tamasha came the inevitable comparisons with Bigg Boss host Salman Khan. But Siddiqui, who was both host and the ‘voice of God’ in the show, stuck to his inimitable style, popping in and out of the house, ejecting badly behaved contestants without a second’s notice, doling cooking tips and creating mischief. By week two, the audiences warmed up to it. Some two and a half weeks later, Salman did a first by entering the Bigg Boss house to dine with the contestants. “I rest my case,” says Siddiqui.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an actor’s life, three plus years of not being on screen comes with the danger of oblivion. Not for Siddiqui. “I am at a stage of contentment where I am not looking to work like them (peers),” he says. “With age comes acceptance…. I will play a hero in his 50s, but definitely not one in his 30s. Neither will I do justice to it nor will I feel good. I am currently writing something which will place me where I want to be.” And, he is gathering his thoughts to become the first Pakistani actor to pen an autobiography.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As an industry veteran, he has deeper concerns such as ensuring that no domestic abuse finds its way on screen in the work that his company, Cereal Entertainment, produces and harassment is a no within his workspace. He says that he will ensure that anyone who indulges in any mischief will never find work in the industry again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When Siddiqui came to India, he evaluated the space best suited for him. It had to be something like what Nawazzudin Siddiqui had carved for himself. To date, he regrets that the two never shared a scene in Mom. By the time Mom released, the Uri attack had happened and Indo-Pak relations had soured. But Siddiqui took back warm memories with him. So, when a Pakistani talk show host remarked that those who worked with Siddiqui died soon after, he apologised to the families of Sridevi and Irrfan on social media, saying that the comment had shown the entire country in bad light.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite his acting chops, Siddiqui’s Hollywood career stalled. He attributes it largely to the lack of support from the Pakistani media. “A senior journalist wrote, ‘Angelina Jolie did a great [job] (in A Mighty Heart), Irrfan Khan was very good, too, and a ‘Pakistani actor’ made a couple of appearances’. I wasn’t given the dignity of even being named,” he recalls. “When I called the journalist, he snapped, saying it was not his job to promote me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He has been auditioning though. He had also hired an agent. But as agents take a cut from an actor’s fees, they promote talents with a bigger pay cheque. It made better sense to approach casting directors who are paid by producers. Disappointed? “Nah, my time will come,” he quips.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our conversation veers to the burden of being a celebrity―the trolling stars receive just for checking in on each other. Perhaps, that is why Indian celebrities remained silent when Pakistan faced its worst floods. “May India never face it (natural calamity), but were it to happen, I would be the first to speak out,” says Siddiqui. “When the Peshawar school shootings happened, celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan spoke out. It is not about [being a] celebrity, it is about the human beneath it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is that human beneath that makes Siddiqui travel the world to raise funds for schools and clinics built by the Shahid Afridi Foundation and talk about breast cancer awareness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This human was cultivated in large measure by Siddiqui’s banker father, Mohd Afzal-Ullah Siddiqui, who had migrated from Ghazipur (some 340km from Lucknow). A well-read, well-spoken, large-hearted man who could waltz just as easily as he could discuss history, the senior Siddiqui, implanted, among many other things, a love for reading and a sharp sense of style in his son.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The son was a tough one to train though. When his father would hand him books with some pages dog-eared, Siddiqui would read only those, thinking that was where the questions would come from. But every time, he was caught. “My retort to Abba was, ‘even if I don’t read, I will be able to lead my life’. Abba said, ‘you will, but you won’t be able to live it’,” he remembers. And so books became his thing, though he admits to short attention spans. He is more adept at cooking and can whip up some nine varieties of okra dishes in his customised kitchen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Till his last days, memories of Ghazipur gripped Siddiqui’s father. “He said that given a choice he would return to India where his childhood memories lived,” recalls Siddiqui. That hold of memory finally made sense when Siddiqui’s childhood home was demolished. He parked his car in front of the crumbling structure and cried, mourning the loss of his boyhood’s most tangible marker. Someday, he hopes to visit Ghazipur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Siddiqui latest project is Selahaddin Eyyubi, an OTT series on the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, to be shot in Turkey. “This is our way of taking Pakistan to the world,” he says. Two Hollywood A-list actors are in contention, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There is no space for mediocrity,” says Siddiqui. “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space, and I was born to fly high.” In that perhaps lies the enduring charm of Siddiqui.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/pakistani-actor-adnan-siddiqui-life-films-family.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/pakistani-actor-adnan-siddiqui-life-films-family.html Fri Mar 03 19:35:36 IST 2023 rado-diastar-original-60-th-anniversary-edition <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/rado-diastar-original-60-th-anniversary-edition.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/2023/3/3/94-DiaStar-Original-60-Year-Anniversary-Edition.jpg" /> <p>In the world of luxury watches, there are few brands that have innovated with different materials as extensively as Rado. Often referred to as the Master of Materials, the Swiss watchmaker’s repertoire is filled with high-tech ceramic watches that are scratch-proof and incredibly durable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rado created the DiaStar 1, the world’s first scratch-proof watch, in 1962. It was made from an alloy of tungsten carbide called “Hardmetal”. It also had a sapphire crystal―almost as hard and durable as diamond―covering the dial. And its distinct oval shape made it stand out further. Unsurprisingly, the DiaStar 1 became immensely popular and has been in production for 60 years with essentially the same design.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the DiaStar 1, the brand released four watches in 2022 (now available in India). Updates were made to contemporise the DiaStar 1 via design and material. The sapphire crystal of the watches featured facets, and the case was crafted from steel and Ceramos, an innovative composite material with the hardness of ceramics and the lustre and resistance of metal alloy, again proving Rado’s expertise in material innovation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“If we can imagine it, we can make it. If we can make it, we will.” This was the vision of the founders of Rado. The DiaStar was made based on it. Together with the Centrix, the DiaStar is Rado’s most sold watch globally, says Adrian Bosshard, CEO, Rado. “Two years ago, when I joined Rado and I saw this product, understood its journey, I knew it was an icon of not only Rado but the watch industry as well,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To upgrade the design, Rado brought in Swiss-Argentinian product designer Alfredo Häberli, who created the DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition, a monochromatic 38mm stainless steel watch with a radial-brushed Ceramos bezel with polished angles. Its sapphire crystal has hexagonal facets, each facet representing a decade of DiaStar’s history. There are green, lume dot hour markers, and a date window at six o’clock. Powering the watch is the Calibre R764 automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve. The watch comes with two bracelet options―a “Milanese” bracelet and a mottled grey textile strap that are easily interchanged. The watch is delivered in a grey case, also designed by Häberli.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I went back to the original and looked at it,” says Häberli. “For me, the proportions on the height were too much. Essentially, I changed the geometry. I wanted to reduce it to make it more elegant. I modernised the hands, and the dial opening has been changed and it has a brushed effect. The back is also more clean, sophisticated.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other three watches launched are the 38mm DiaStar Original, which continue the monochromatic theme, albeit in three dial versions―blue, dark grey, and green. Also crafted in stainless steel with a Ceramos bezel, their sapphire crystal features vertical facets. This coupled with the fact that the dial has vertical and horizontal brushed finishes ensures that the watches catch the light beautifully. Devoid of hour markers, the dial has a vertical day-date window at six o’clock. These watches are also powered by the Calibre R764 and are paired with polished, brushed H-link stainless steel bracelets with stainless steel clasps.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/rado-diastar-original-60-th-anniversary-edition.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/03/03/rado-diastar-original-60-th-anniversary-edition.html Fri Mar 03 19:36:28 IST 2023 india-s-female-hip-hop-collective-wild-wild-women <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/india-s-female-hip-hop-collective-wild-wild-women.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/2023/2/25/63-Hashtag-Preeti.jpg" /> <p>In early 2021, a group of women gathered at a park in Mumbai’s Andheri East for a cypher―a gathering of rappers and beat-boxers to spontaneously make music. The cypher was coordinated over WhatsApp by rappers HashtagPreeti (Preeti N. Sutar) and Krantinaari (Ashwini Hiremath), who were frustrated over the lack of recognition and space for female rappers in India. The cypher led to the formation of Wild Wild Women, India’s first all-female hip-hop collective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the last two years, Wild Wild Women have carved out a space for themselves in the country’s flourishing hip-hop scene with their hard-hitting lyrics and brilliant flow, use of multiple languages, and themes exploring a range of issues from mental health to women empowerment and prejudices in a patriarchal society.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The collective currently has five rappers―HashtagPreeti, Krantinaari, MC Mahila (Shruti Raut), JQueen (Jacqulin Lucas) and Pratika (Pratika E. Prabhune). Two break-dancers, FlowRaw (Deepa Singh) and MGK (Mugdha Dabholkar), and an artist, Gauri Dabholkar, who does graffiti and live art during shows, complete the ensemble.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Along with their hip-hop avatars via Wild Wild Women, some of them have other jobs, too. HashtagPreeti is a jewellery designer and Krantinaari, a former Microsoft employee, is a consultant and also does mural designs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We come from different backgrounds and have different music [preferences],” says Pratika. “So, the kind of stuff that we write also differs. But, the beauty [of our crew] is the diversity. All of us bring something to the table.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was on international women’s day in 2021 that the crew brought out its first single, ‘I Do It For Hip Hop’. It encapsulates their struggles, the inevitability of their coming together and the organic nature of their creative processes. “Finding my place, or where I fit, the misfit who digs riffs, filling my ears with lit sh*t to fix this....” raps Pratika in the track.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A big challenge the rappers faced was explaining what they were doing to their families. “Initially, my parents did not know that I was into music or that there was something called rap; they had no clue,” says HashtagPreeti. “There was no musical background and the gap was too big for them to understand. But later, they realised: ‘Ok, there is something that she is doing and it is called rap’. The change happened when they saw me on TV or on YouTube. When they saw that people were appreciating our work and that I was earning money, they started accepting and understanding. It was a slow process.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>JQueen says that a performance by Wild Wild Women at her sister’s wedding changed her family’s perspective towards what she was doing. “I used to tell my mom and dad that I love to rap and had performed for them at home,” she says. “But, they always told me to think of it as a hobby and not a full-time job. They advised me to get a 9-to-5 job. So, I was like ‘Why are these people doubting my ability?’.” Then came the wedding and the crew decided to accompany Jqueen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I told my dad that my friends were coming and that we were planning to perform,” says JQueen. “We went on stage. We were wearing saris, lehengas, ghagras and all. I am sure that people were expecting us to dance or something. We had to manage with just two mics. But, the moment MC Mahila started rapping, people were awestruck. Soon, we saw all the guests grooving and vibing. And, when the performance was done, my mom came and hugged all my girls and kissed them on their cheeks. I am sure she was proud of me that night. After that performance, my family started believing in me.” JQueen is now into music full time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The group’s second single, ‘Game Flip’, speaks about “how women are turning the tables and flipping the game, be it through their music, or in life”. Produced by Pratika, the song challenges the notion that women cannot be independent and do not have the capacity or skill of men. The track experimented with a style that was “something between breakbeat and funk with afro percussion influences at a slowed down tempo”. Another song, ‘Uddu Azad’ speaks of women wanting to “break free from the shackles” put on them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from their original work, crew members have also been featured in the works of other rappers. For instance, the song ‘Cypher for Equality’ by rapper Tracy De Sá, released on February 21, features Pratika, HashtagPreeti and MC Mahila.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The crew says it had to work really hard to break the glass ceiling and get some gigs. “Initially, people did not view us seriously,” says Krantinaari. “They were like... we are going to get married… or date someone in the scene and get distracted.” She adds that the crew found it hard to find an audience, too. “Who is our audience?” she asks. “These boys collectively have one answer... only one opinion... and if one guy hates us, the entire boy-community hates us. And, the seats were empty. No one was paying attention to what we were saying.” But slowly, things started to change, and the crew started finding stages and floors in different cities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The group has to content with chauvinistic and misogynistic comments regularly. Krantinaari says that men, especially those from the hip-hop scene, need to understand that there is “another dimension―women’s dimension, from where things look different”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Right now, big stages or money are not the primary concern of the Wild Wild Women. “We are working on [our] music,” says Krantinaari. “These things that are happening to us, like getting a stage, getting a platform or being invited to different cities, all these things are happening organically. Our full focus is on music. Because we do not want [a scenario] where the boys can say that we are not musically profound yet. We do not want any of those professional backlashes. So as women in music, it is our responsibility to be so thorough that no one can knock our work.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/india-s-female-hip-hop-collective-wild-wild-women.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/india-s-female-hip-hop-collective-wild-wild-women.html Sat Feb 25 12:22:23 IST 2023 indian-actress-and-singer-shruti-hassan-career-interests <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/indian-actress-and-singer-shruti-hassan-career-interests.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/2023/2/25/67-Shruti-Haasan-and-Chiranjeevi.jpg" /> <p>Actor-singer Shruti Haasan first stepped into a recording studio when she was six years old. It was to sing a few lines of composer Ilayaraja’s song, ‘Potri Paadadi Penney’ for her father Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus, Thevar Magan (1992). Then, she clung to her father’s hand, butterflies in her stomach. That is when she saw a red heart sticker on the microphone. That heart comforted her and gave her the confidence that she would not make a mess of it all. Since then, she has always associated the recording studio with kindness and love. “It will forever remain an encouraging memory for me,” says Haasan, who has just returned to Mumbai after her shoot for The Eye, her international project with Mark Rowley.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Haasan, 37, has come a long way since then. After 14 years in the Indian film industry―she made her acting debut with the Hindi film Luck (2009)―she can proudly flaunt that she is one of the most sought-after stars, especially in the south. An array of accolades―including two Filmfare awards and a Power Corridors Indian Achiever’s Award earlier this year―has given her the freedom to choose diverse roles. Whether it was the RAW agent in Waltair Veerayya (2023) or the journalist in Laabam (2021) or the mother in Krack (2021), Haasan has defied typecasting. Her upcoming releases include Prashant Neel’s Salaar, opposite Prabhas, and Gopichand Malineni’s NBK 107, opposite Nandamuri Balakrishna.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But it is difficult to contain the firebrand actor within India. Her first international project was Treadstone (2019), in which she was simply “trying something new”. The action drama, co-starring Jeremy Irvine, Brian J. Smith, Omar Metwally and Tracy Ifeachor, was based on the Jason Bourne universe. In it, Haasan played the role of Nira Patel, a waitress who led a dangerous double life as a trained assassin. In fact, she performed her own stunts in the series, proving her penchant for living life on the edge. Treadstone opened the way for her second international project, The Eye, directed by Daphne Schmon, for which she shot in Athens and Corfu. The psychological thriller is about a widow who returns to a Greek island to spread her dead husband’s ashes. Its release date is yet to be announced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Eye is extremely different from Treadstone, in which I just had a guest appearance and was just trying to find my feet,” says Haasan. “It is a beautifully emotional film. I truly feel privileged to be part of this project.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming from such an illustrious family of actors, it is only natural that Haasan finds cinema to be the most fulfilling thing in her life. But it was not her first love. In fact, she began her career as a singer. “I got into music seriously when I turned 19, when I went to a music school abroad and started writing and making my own music,” she recalls. “I always wanted to study as many genres and go as far as I possibly could.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was her father who introduced her to the world of music, when he gifted her with a CD of The White Album by The Beatles. She remembers listening to it again and again, never tiring of the songs. But it was music by the American rock supergroup AudioSlave that got her hooked to heavy metal. Even after days of hectic shooting, she comes back, sits at her piano and writes music at night. “I did not write music for anybody else,” she says. “But it was a cathartic process for me. It gave me such joy and peace that I wanted to share it with others.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2022, after the success of her first single ‘Edge’, Haasan released her next―‘She Is A Hero’―penned, composed and sung by her, with rap by MC Altaf. Dark and gritty, there is an undertone of angst in Haasan’s voice as she sings, “Oh, couldn’t you take her home? Was it to break her heart wide open?” Featuring girls from the NGO Shiksha Seva Foundation, the song―which shines light on the troubles and triumphs of women―is at once tender and hard-hitting. Within a few days it garnered over a million views.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She has also lent her voice for the international audio drama Sandman: Act III. Released exclusively on Audible by DC in 2022, it is the third instalment of The New York Times best-selling, multi-part original audio drama series, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s books. “I have been a huge admirer of Gaiman since my teenage,” says Haasan. She was also roped in to voice the character of Elsa in the Tamil version of Disney’s Frozen II.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Till a decade ago, music always stood first for Haasan. When she started writing songs, she would tell her friends that she would score for films one day, because for her everything was linked to cinema. But today, both music and cinema are like her two bedfellows. “It is like asking a mother to choose between her two children,” she says. In fact, music and cinema have intertwined to make her a better performer. While cinema has made her a good story teller, music has helped her express different parts of herself. “Because of cinema, I have understood how to tell stories with integrity as a songwriter,” she says. “It has allowed me access to hidden parts of myself as a woman and as a musician.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aiding her in this process is her love for books, especially autobiographies. But more than that, her ethos has been defined by her father who, she says, is a beguiling combination of fiery and vulnerable. “He is not afraid to be himself and to make decisions that matter to him,” she says. “But he also keeps himself vulnerable, and open to performing and writing those stories. I have always found that fascinating and inspiring.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/indian-actress-and-singer-shruti-hassan-career-interests.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/indian-actress-and-singer-shruti-hassan-career-interests.html Sat Feb 25 12:23:33 IST 2023 shobhaa-de-book-insatiable-my-hunger-for-life-summary <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/shobhaa-de-book-insatiable-my-hunger-for-life-summary.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/2023/2/25/68-Shobhaa-De.jpg" /> <p>Shobhaa De has lost her voice. Literally, not metaphorically. And De―usually outspoken, often outrageous, with no filters, but with a dollop of the De earthiness―has had to cancel a lit fest appearance and sit at home quietly. “I have never been voiceless before,’’ she says. “In all these years of being a writer and a columnist, to be voiceless, in physical terms, is doubly painful.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Insatiable―My Hunger for Life is an addition to her list of bestselling memoirs at various milestones in her life. At 75, De continues to be dauntingly prolific. But more than that, she continues to be relevant. There have been memoirs before―when she turned 60, and then again at 70. Will 80 bring another edition? “That would be an excess,’’ she says with a laugh. “Now, one year at a time. I don’t even want to think that far ahead. I want to give myself enough space inside my head and heart to just switch off for a while, even from thinking about the next book. Though I have to admit shamefacedly that I have started thinking about it. But that is just me being insatiable. I can’t seem to stop. I suppose, why should I? I remember Pablo Picasso saying in his 90s that it takes a person a very long time to actually become young. And it sounds like a contradiction in terms. But it isn’t.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The secret is in her book―an ode to life, love and food. It is very much a book about living with abandon. It is addictive, and crackling with this infectious zeal for life. “To keep your mind in overdrive at all times, thinking about the possibilities that the future offers―that is like a treasure,” she says. “So that is curiosity. That is the enthusiasm for experiencing whatever is available and possible in a realistic way at a certain stage in your life. And, of course, in a more lighthearted way, the mantra would be called khao, peeyo, jiyo (eat, drink, live) which encapsulates everything.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book is filled with her interactions with the world. From her refusing Padma Lakshmi a seat next to her boyfriend, Salman Rushdie, at a party so that De could talk with him, to her friendship with a Kashmiri shawl-wallah, to M.F. Husain’s addiction to chai (Madhuri Dixit brewed it eight times in her house till she got it right for him), De’s musings are addictive. Littered with FFF―family, friendship and food―Insatiable is an allegory for De herself. Then there is the food. From Bong khaana to dhokla and biryani, she dishes out her expertise on everything, and it is hard not to binge while reading the book. (Though maybe her suggestion of pairing gobi manchurian with vanilla ice cream, which she made to a Michelin chef, might be a tad too experimental).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Insatiable may offer a ringside view of her life filled to the brim, but it is also about hunger. She describes her early thirties as the “toughest period’’ of her life when she was alone. “You have brought this upon yourself,” said hostile family members, who refused to open their doors to her. At her darkest moments, De found comfort in boiled eggs. Her staple meal was two eggs a day and a chilled bottle of Aarey milk. “These are crossroads, particularly in the lives of urban women who have to make difficult choices,” she says. “Whether it involves relationships or careers, haven’t we all come to that point at some stage? Some are fortunate and blessed that they have not faced that one egg a day situation. But having lived through that, I can never forget what that one egg a day taught me about myself. Those days were dark. And they were disturbing. They were extremely painful. But that I still managed―and I did not let that keep me down―is something that, looking back, I feel good about. I did not ask for favours from anyone. I used all the skill sets that I possessed. I used my intelligence and my practicality. And I pulled myself out. So here I am. And yeah, I think a lot of women have that capacity and do it.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is Valentine’s Day. So far, her husband, Dilip De―who makes an appearance in her book, often exacting, especially with Bengali food and his views on chopping ‘pui saag’ (Malabar spinach) and choosing the right ‘maach’ (fish)―has not made a grand gesture of romance as yet. But it is coming. There is a whirlwind holiday planned for her birthday to South America. Plus, after all, the day is still young, says De. And so is she.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>INSATIABLE: MY HUNGER FOR LIFE</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Shobhaa De</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>HarperCollins India</b></p> <p><i>Price (hardback) </i><b>Rs699;</b> pages <b>304</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/shobhaa-de-book-insatiable-my-hunger-for-life-summary.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/25/shobhaa-de-book-insatiable-my-hunger-for-life-summary.html Sat Feb 25 15:10:39 IST 2023 victory-city-salman-rushdie-novel-story-excerpt <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/victory-city-salman-rushdie-novel-story-excerpt.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/2023/2/17/63-A-wordsmiths-defiance.jpg" /> <p>The beginning of Midnight’s Children is difficult to forget. “I was born in the city of Bombay… once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947.” And 42 years later, the last words of Victory City, as Bisnaga turned to “rubble, blood, ash” are written to be remembered: “Words are the only victors”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These words―symbolic, prophetic, powerful and certainly poignant―are the mantra by which Salman Rushdie has chosen to live. Victory City is the manifesto that all writers need. That it comes at a time when Rushdie, too, has lived to tell the tale about the attack that left him blind in one eye only reinforces its power. And makes Victory City both a symbol of his defiance and a reaffirmation of the sheer force of his talent. No one tells a story quite as seductively, compellingly, vividly and addictively as him. Rushdie―the gladiator with a pen mightier than a sword―has the ability to keep you engrossed. We giggle, sigh, dream and willingly sink into a world that he has conjured up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The story of Victory City is told by Pampa Kampana―a poet “miracle worker and prophetess’’ who grew a city out of seeds. “It was necessary she said to do something to cure the multitude of its unreality,’’ writes Rushdie. “Her solution was fiction.” The poet, who lived to be 247 years old, is the perfect Rushdie-esque heroine. She does not age and she whispers cities into being. Her poem―the immortal masterpiece Jayaparajaya (Victory and Defeat)―is written in Sanskrit and is as long as the Ramayana.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pampa Kampana loses her mother when she is nine, as all the women of the kingdom walk into a bonfire. She remains dry-eyed, but it scars her. The story of the empire, of war, of women warriors, of religion and of exile―as witnessed and told through the poet’s word―is vintage Rushdie.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Midnight’s Children was a book that changed Rushdie’s destiny and opened the door for Indian writers. Victory City arrives at a time when “the party line regarding members of other faiths―we are good, they are bad―had a certain infectious clarity. So did the idea that dissent was unpatriotic.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book is his sixteenth, a new addition to the vast array of worlds that Rushdie has constructed, from Grimus (1975), to the gorgeous Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), to The Enchantress of Florence (2008). This one is unmistakably Indian. Set in India, Bharat and Hindustan, Rushdie returns to familiar ground blending history and magic realism to create a story with the power of myth and the sweep of an epic. Oddly, Pampa Kampana is blinded in the novel, another quirk that moves from imagination to reality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book’s themes are classic Rushdie―intolerance, fundamentalism and, of course, the power of stories. In Victory City, the poet has the last word. The ones that have the power finally are those that write. It is as much a comfort for writers as it is a challenge for those who want to silence them. “How are they remembered now, these kings, these queens?” he writes. “They exist now only in words. While they lived, they were victors, or vanquished, or both. Now they are neither. Words are the only victors….”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Excerpts from the book</b></i></p> <p>As the humbled poet was leaving Pampa’s presence, her three daughters came in. Yotshna, Zerelda and Yuktasri were a trio of mature beauties as formidable as their mother. Nachana bowed to them as he left, and delivered this parting shot: ‘Your Majesty, your daughters have now become your sisters.’ And with this final failed attempt at flattery he was gone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The line struck Pampa Kampana’s heart like an arrow. ‘Yes,’ she thought, ‘it’s happening again.’ People were growing old all around her while she remained unchanged. Her beloved Bukka was sixty-six now, with bad knees, and he was often short of breath; he was really in no condition to ride to war. Meanwhile, if she paused to work it out, she herself was approaching her fiftieth birthday, but she still looked like a young woman of perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two. So, yes, the girls looked like her older sisters, not her children―maybe even her aunts, for by now they were spinster ladies in their thirties. She had a vision of a day in the future when they would be in their mid-sixties or older and she would still, to all appearances, be a young woman of perhaps twenty-seven. She would probably be looking under thirty when they died of old age. She feared that she might once again have to harden her heart, as she had with Domingo Nunes. Was she going to have to learn how to stop loving them, so that she could let them go while she lived on? What would it do to her, to bury her children one by one? Would she weep or remain dry-eyed? Would she have learned the spiritual technique of detachment from the world, which would ward off grief, or would she be annihilated by their departure and long for her own death, which obstinately refused to come? Or maybe they would be lucky and all die young together, in a battle or an accident. Or maybe they would all be murdered in their beds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Her daughters wouldn’t let her sit alone with that thundercloud over her head. ‘Come with us,’ Zerelda cried. ‘We’re going to swordsmanship class.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pampa Kampana had wanted them to learn pottery, as she had, and her mother Radha too, but the three sisters were uninterested in the potter’s wheel, which continued to be Pampa Kampana’s solitary hobby. She had raised her daughters to be better than men, better-educated than any man and more outspoken, and they could also ride horses better than men and argue better and fight harder and more effectively than any male warrior in the army. When Bukka sent his ambassador to China, Pampa Kampana told him, ‘They have extraordinary combat skills in that country, I hear. Youngsters learn about bare-hand fights and swords and spears too, long knives and short daggers also, and blowpipes with poisoned darts, I think. Bring me back the best martial arts instructor you can find.’ The ambassador had done as she commanded, and now Grandmaster Li Ye-He was installed as chief instructor of Wudang Sword at the Green Destiny kwoon―which was to say, ‘school’―of Bisnaga, and all four royal women were his star students.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘Yes,’ Pampa Kampana agreed, shrugging off her sadness. ‘Let’s go and fight.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The kwoon was a wooden building made by Bisnagan craftsmen (and craftswomen) in the prescribed Chinese fashion, under the direction of Grandmaster Li. There was a central quadrangle, open to the sky, and this was where the fighting mat was rolled out every day. Around the quadrangle the building rose up for three storeys, with balconies overlooking the fighting square, and there were rooms for study and meditation as well. Pampa Kampana found very beautiful the presence of this alien building near the heart of Bisnaga, one world penetrating another for the benefit of both. ‘Grandmaster Li,’ she said, bowing, as she entered the kwoon with her daughters, ‘I bring my girls to you. You should know that they all tell me they intend to find you a Bisnagan wife.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All four women tried every day to make this kind of remark in the hope of coaxing a reaction, a smile, perhaps even a blush, out of the instructor. But his face remained impassive. ‘Learn from him,’ Pampa Kampana advised her daughters. ‘Such magnificent self-control, such awe-inspiring stillness, is a power we should all try to acquire.’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As she watched her daughters working out on the fighting mat in the kwoon, duelling in pairs, Pampa Kampana noticed, not for the first time, that they were developing supernatural skills. In the midst of a bout they could run up walls as if they were floors, they could leap gravity-defying distances from balcony to balcony on the upper levels of the school, they could spin so fast that they created little tornados around themselves, which bore them vertically into the air, and they could use an aerial somersault technique―somersaulting, so to speak, up an invisible staircase in the air―which Grandmaster Li avowed he had never seen before. Their sword skills were so extraordinary that Pampa Kampana understood they could defend themselves against a small army. She hoped she would never need to put that belief to the test.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She worked with Grandmaster Li as well, but in solitude, preferring to be simply a proud mother while her daughters had their lessons, and to attend to her own education by herself. In her private sessions with Li it quickly became clear that they were equals. ‘I have nothing to teach you,’ said Li Ye-He. ‘But to fight with you sharpens my own skills, so it would be more truthful to say that you are teaching me.’ In this way, Pampa Kampana learned that the goddess had granted her even more than she had previously suspected.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>----------------------------------------------------------------------------------</p> <p><br> <b>Excerpted with permission from Penguin Random House India</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Victory City</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Salman Rushdie</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Penguin Random House India</b></p> <p><i>Price</i> <b>Rs699;</b> <i>pages</i> <b>342</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/victory-city-salman-rushdie-novel-story-excerpt.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/victory-city-salman-rushdie-novel-story-excerpt.html Fri Feb 17 15:21:50 IST 2023 chef-manu-chandra-lupa-restaurant-bangalore <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/chef-manu-chandra-lupa-restaurant-bangalore.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/2023/2/17/67-Corzetti-pasta-anyone.jpg" /> <p>A Tuscan courtyard in the heart of Bengaluru is divided into meticulously crafted fine-dining zones, pampering you with choices of wines, inventive cocktails and an impressive variety of European cuisine. Lupa―the new restaurant on MG Road, Bengaluru―is the brainchild of chef-restaurateur Manu Chandra and hospitality veteran Chetan Rampal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lupa is named after the mythological La Lupa, or the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of the modern city of Rome. “The Roman goddess is a nurturing spirit, but also untameable. I think that resonated with me,” says Chandra, the Delhi lad who pursued his passion for food at the Culinary Institute of America and returned to India in 2004 to join Olive Beach in Bengaluru as its chef de cuisine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Inspired by everything Italian―from architecture and history to food and wine―Chandra hopes to redefine the fine-dining experience in Bengaluru.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In October 2021, he quit the Olive group―where he had served as the chef partner for 17 years―to become an entrepreneur. Lupa is the first restaurant project by his company, Savaa Ser. He also founded Single Thread, a culinary consultancy and catering company. Last year, Chandra cooked the inaugural dinner for Indian luminaries at the Cannes film festival.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He points to the central fountain with the she-wolf heads in marble and says, “The sound of trickling water from the hand-carved marble fountains blending with the curated ambient music helps drown out the madness right across the wall [on the busy MG Road]. The open courtyard and the sound of the metro in the backdrop reminds one of the New York subway.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The menu is rooted in a trans-European style. The classic European flavours are brought alive by culinary director and chef Prashanth Puttaswamy. Some of the offerings include buratta dusted with spray-dried tomato powder, textures of tomatoes, baby arugula, pepitas, fennel, cauliflower espuma and basil oil; hamachi crudo with sashimi grade yellow tail, red cabbage and ponzu dressing, bonito mayo, nati coriander leaves, Bubu arare and pickled cherry radish; corzetti pasta with a wild mushroom ragu topped with crispy garlic and toasted walnuts; and Arroz De Pato, a unique version of Portuguese duck rice where the rice is cooked with aromatic duck stock, spices, cured duck breast and chorizo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two signature open pantries―a mini Gelato Lab and a Salumeria-cum-Small Plates Bar―give customers a fresh experience in taste as well as concept. “The thing that most people don’t understand is that pizza and gelato need the right heat for the right product,” says Chandra. The pantries serve freshly sliced hams, cured meats, salumis, pâtés, terrines, pickled vegetables, and fresh cheeses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lupa’s signature cocktails include Lupa-tini, made with house-made sous-vide limoncello; Clarified Pina Colada, made with washed coconut fat and milk clarified rum with pineapple; and the Notorious F.I.G, made with house-made fig jam infused bourbon, cold pressed orange juice, coffee bitters, cinnamon and thyme. The restaurant offers non-alcoholic beverages, too, with a coffee and tea programme that lets you relish a stirred negroni or a perfectly pulled espresso.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A narrow winding staircase takes you to the country’s first below-ground wine cellar. The stone-clad cellar sits twelve feet below ground level, with a curated list of nearly two thousand bottles of wine, with an exclusive tasting zone available only by prior appointment. “This restaurant aspires to be more than just a brick-and-mortar space, as it hopes to host international bartender residencies,” says Chandra. “Bartenders from all over the world will be invited to spend a month at Lupa to bring in freshness and versatility into the space.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/chef-manu-chandra-lupa-restaurant-bangalore.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/chef-manu-chandra-lupa-restaurant-bangalore.html Fri Feb 17 15:16:33 IST 2023 grammy-award-winner-ricky-kej-interview <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/grammy-award-winner-ricky-kej-interview.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/2023/2/17/68-Ricky-Kej.jpg" /> <p>When he was 21, Bengaluru-based Ricky Kej graduated as a dentist. That done, he kept the degree aside, and took to making music. Twenty years later, at 41, he is an internationally acclaimed composer, and the only Indian to win the Grammy thrice. Not just that, Kej is the youngest person of Indian-origin to have ever won the Grammy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Kej’s first Grammy was in 2015 for the album Winds of Samsara, seven years later, in 2022, he bagged his second Grammy, along with Scottish American rock legend Stewart Copeland. Recently, Kej won his third Grammy for Divine Tides, which includes nine songs and eight videos featuring artists from around the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Edited excerpts from an interview:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Your third Grammy! Did you expect this?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> The nomination itself came as a huge surprise to all of us. It is always very surreal to live through the moment of winning another Grammy. It has been a week now and congratulatory messages are still pouring in from family, friends, and well-wishers. I am extremely grateful for all the love and I am incredibly thankful for having had another opportunity to make my country proud again on the biggest platform in the world for music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ You were nominated against Christina Aguilera [American singer-songwriter], for a category that cuts across genres. How did that feel?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> It is a huge honour to compete and win in a category where global superstars such as Aguilera and The Chainsmokers [American DJ duo] were nominated. It is extremely exciting that non-film Indian music is gaining so much popularity on the world stage and I’d like to thank the Recording Academy for this honour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Tell us about spirituality awareness seeping into the creative output of Divine Tides. What were your own subconscious experiences?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> Divine Tides is a tribute to the magnificence of our natural world and the resilience of our species. I believe it is truly positive music that can transform our planet by evoking a powerful emotional response in listeners. I am always in a spiritual space when I create music and when I collaborate with other musicians who respect music as much as I do. The positive energy creates a ripple effect and reflects in the work that we put out. The entire journey of creating Divine Tides has been extremely special.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Is Indian classical music more mainstream than Indian film music, and the truest ambassador of India to the world?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> I am a huge fan of Indian classical music and it is the truest ambassador of India to the world. Our rich musical heritage is extremely unique and diverse. There is so much more to Indian music than film music, and independent, folk and classical artists in India deserve the spotlight. Stalwarts like Pandit Ravi Shankar are a huge inspiration to me because they have never let boundaries define them. All they did was make music that they strongly believed in and collaborated with some of the best musicians and individuals across the globe. They never lost their artistic personas. Although I consider my music to be global, it is strongly rooted in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Share your childhood and growing up experiences that shaped you―both as a musician and an environmentally conscious person?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> I was born in North Carolina in the US. My father was a third generation doctor, and when I was eight, my parents moved to Bengaluru. I completed the rest of my education in Bengaluru, and have lived here since. I have always been a musician at heart. My parents used to have a large music collection at home, from all kinds of genres, languages and cultures. While my friends loved video games, I used to put on these records, read the liner notes, figure out the musicians, and learn about the instruments they use. There was a baby piano and a guitar at home that no one played and I picked those up. I am a self-taught musician and it was only when I was around 20 that I went through formal music education to overcome what I thought was a handicap in classical music. I have also been deeply connected with nature ever since I was very young. Music and our environment have always been two pillars that have defined my life, and after I won my first Grammy in 2015, I dedicated my life and music to the sole purpose of environmental consciousness by blending these passions together.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Your music is always about a social message.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b> I only make music from the heart and the music that I create is an extension of my personality and beliefs. All my songs are about protecting our environment, peaceful coexistence and to raise awareness about various social issues around the world, such as the refugee crisis, land degradation, war and conservation. I work closely with several global not-for-profit organisations and serve as an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, The UNESCO-Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and the Earth Day Network. I am excited to continue to collaborate with these amazing entities, and to work hard by putting my creativity to make this world a better place for everything through my music.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/grammy-award-winner-ricky-kej-interview.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/grammy-award-winner-ricky-kej-interview.html Fri Feb 17 15:13:41 IST 2023 canadian-indian-actress-lisa-ray-interview <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/canadian-indian-actress-lisa-ray-interview.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/2023/2/17/70-Lisa-Ray.jpg" /> <p>TheUpsideSpace (TUS), a curator-led digital arts platform is Lisa Ray’s latest venture into the art space. TUS, she says, puts the spotlight on artists from Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East via NFTs (digital art which is tokenised in the blockchain.) Through NFTs, she hopes to take the voices from the Global South to the mainstream. Excerpts from an interview:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ You have been an actor, author, activist and now you have forayed into the art space.</b></p> <p><b>A/ </b>Art has always been a feature in my life. There is this assumption that if you are an actor, that is all that you can do. But that is so not true and I also wrote a book on it. I have always had many parallel interests and identities. The seed was sowed into me when I was very young; I spent my first paycheque on a Suhas Roy in Bombay in 1993 and have been into collecting contemporary Indian art for several years. I have never considered myself as an actor and don’t know why I am called one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ Why NFTs?</b></p> <p><b>A/</b>&nbsp;If we are to make art accessible to everyone, NFTs come in because they dissolve all boundaries. So we created an online gallery―TUS, a curated platform. We work with strong curators with strong points of view from different regions, across South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the curators become the storytellers. So you gain access into a certain region of the world through the stories they tell and through the artists who are on board. Access should not be an obstacle for artists who want access to a global marketplace. We have been able to facilitate creating NFTs or helping with digital interventions with artists who are not tech savvy or who don’t have the particular skill-set. We will also partner with artists who work purely in the analogue world, who have a traditional studio practice. So we are facilitating an entry point for both, the artist and the audiences as well. For the audiences, we have made buying NFTs on our platform simple. We accept credit cards, fiat currency as well as crypto. We are an art platform and tech is the enabler.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ How do you address plagiarism in NFTs?</b></p> <p><b>A/</b>&nbsp;NFTs ensure authenticity more than any other protocol that we have. In fact, they ensure provenance of the work and ensure smart royalties. Today, even a traditional artwork can be easily duplicated. NFTs are watertight about the authenticity and ownership and it is all there for public consumption. So if you are talking about forgery in the manner of someone taking a screenshot then that can be done with anything and anywhere. NFTs are a disruptive new technology offering a new creative playground for artists.</p> <p><b>Q/ What kind of an art collector have you been?</b></p> <p><b>A/</b>&nbsp;Mainly contemporary Indian art, but I had also collected when I lived in Hong Kong and Singapore. Some of the recent artists I have collected are Sumakshi Singh, Rithika Merchant, Gunjan Gupta who works with turmeric, C. Bhagyanath and Jogen Chowdhury. I am very interested in younger artists such as Santanu Hazarika and Kunel Gaur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/ What has changed in terms of art appreciation and collection in India?</b></p> <p><b>A/</b>&nbsp;Younger generations coming to gallery spaces, engaging and becoming patrons of the art, is what has changed. In the 1990s it was a much older clientele.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/canadian-indian-actress-lisa-ray-interview.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/17/canadian-indian-actress-lisa-ray-interview.html Fri Feb 17 17:57:14 IST 2023 bollywood-film-pathaan-success-reasons-analysis <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/bollywood-film-pathaan-success-reasons-analysis.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/2023/2/11/63-Shah-Rukh-Khan.jpg" /> <p>After four years of a no-show preceded by four years of damp squibs, it seemed that King Khan’s reign had ended. Social media, with a troll’s soul, was abuzz with comments like, “The guy is three years short of 60; he is old and wrinkled. It is time for him to hang up his boots, sit back and watch as others take over.” Even Shah Rukh Khan, in his 35th year in showbiz this year, thought as much. “I was told nobody wanted to watch me anymore and that my films won’t work. So, I thought of an alternate career: cooking Italian food. I thought I would start a restaurant and name it Red Chillies [after his production house] food eatery,” he said recently, his signature self-deprecating humour on display. And then came Pathaan. It was a validation like no other for the ‘Baadshah of Bollywood’in a renewed avatar―an action hero, with long, flowing locks, eight-pack abs chiselled to perfection and a sharp jawline. Pathaan soon became a watershed event in the history of Hindi cinema―the first Hindi film to enter the Rs100 crore club on day one of release (January 25). And, with a worldwide collection of Rs832.20 crore in 12 days, it was all set to cross the Golden Globe award-winning RRR’s record in the US.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is as if Pathaan, an action-packed film, soon turned into a love story between Shah Rukh and the people of India. “There are many battles being fought with this film,” says Ranjani Mazumdar, professor of cinema studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. “One is the attack on Bollywood; two, the attack on Muslims and Muslim stars; and three, on Shah Rukh Khan and the arrest of his son Aryan Khan last year on unproven charges. I was surprised at how much they were able to say in this film. By way of an action-oriented film, here is a lead protagonist who is openly claiming his Muslim identity and is accepted across the nation despite the current political situation we find ourselves in. For someone who was being continuously hounded until recently, the audiences have embraced him on a different kind of an emotional spectrum.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pathaan, the latest from Yash Raj Films’s spy universe that includes Tiger (Salman Khan) and Kabir (Hrithik Roshan from War), is a thriller in which Shah Rukh’s biography gets seamlessly woven into the narrative. The film has been very cleverly made, as if it is the superstar’s clapback to his naysayers and to those who keep questioning his identity and patriotism. It is also a sort of interrogation into the meaning of religious and national identities. In one of the most affecting scenes, when Deepika Padukone asks Pathaan, “Kya tum Musalmaan ho [are you a Muslim]”, he replies that he was abandoned as a child and became Pathaan not out of choice but because of circumstances. It kind of establishes a fluidity of identity and talks to the present, which is locked in battles of identity, caste and religion. This is why, to attack the film for jingoism is missing the point of it altogether. “Pathaan is the result of the deep belief that the nation has abandoned us, but we are not going to abandon it because this is our land,” says Mazumdar. “And in that, Shah Rukh seems to be speaking for himself when [Pathaan] tells [the] antagonist, ‘Ask not what the nation did for you but what you did for the nation’, the former speaking his mind as somewhere he, too, felt as if he was abandoned. Yet, that he will continue to love his land.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Four days after the film’s release, Shah Rukh held his first press conference in years. In all that time, the superstar’s wit and charisma had not been dented one bit. Speaking on how cinema was above religion and bigotry, he referred to costars Deepika Padukone, John Abraham and himself as Amar, Akbar and Anthony, emphasising that there was an urgent need to cut cinematic experiences free from their makers and allow them to float freely in a creative universe. This is not a film one would go to find logic. But then, cinema, like all art forms, is not about a direct relationship to reality. Pathaan is also a testament to Shah Rukh’s textured filmography, where he has played characters of all shades. He is the psychotic lover (Baazigar and Darr, 1993) and the chocolate boy (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, for instance, 1995) and the gangster (Raees, 2017) and the action hero of today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The power of Shah Rukh’s fandom is evident from the fact that he did not promote the film in any manner, except for interacting with his fans on Twitter. And in many of those threads, it was established that his fans now wanted to see more of him in hardcore action. “Sir, ab Dunki ke baad action movies hi sign karna [sign only action films after Dunki],”wrote a fan. Shah Rukh replied with a yes, adding wittily that he has to take a lot of painkillers for action roles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Shah Rukh, Pathaan came as a float when his ship was sinking. None of the films he helmed before that had worked―from Fan (2016) to Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017) and Zero (2018). And with him, the YRF banner that produced both Zero and Fan, was also in a bad shape. “But one of the vulnerabilities of being a power figure is that if you take credit for the film’s success, you take the blame for a film’s failure, too,” says K.U. Mohanan, an award-winning cinematographer who has worked with Shah Rukh during the making of Don (2006) and Raees. “So it is always Shah Rukh’s film that didn’t do well. But the real thing might be different. It cannot be equated to his star power alone.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Khan triumvirate, including Salman and Aamir, have ruled Bollywood for long, but as Mazumdar says, “You can’t do it beyond a point. So, my guess is that they will be around for some more time, but after a while they will have to [make way for] other people. But whether we will have this kind of legacy of stars again is something we will have to wait and watch.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And, the Khans, aware and cheeky as ever, address it in Pathaan. As the end credits rolled, Shah Rukh and Salman discussed the possibility of handing over their legacy to fresh talent. “But who can replace us,” they ask. “Nobody.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talk about letting your work do the talking!</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/bollywood-film-pathaan-success-reasons-analysis.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/bollywood-film-pathaan-success-reasons-analysis.html Sat Feb 11 15:41:06 IST 2023 car-rides-over-caviar-modern-dating-trends <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/car-rides-over-caviar-modern-dating-trends.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/2023/2/11/66-Car-rides-over-caviar.jpg" /> <p>Modern dating is hard. Earlier, you brought her chocolates and roses, opened the car door for her and, when she wanted to take it to the next level, invited you home for ‘coffee’. Well, the rules have changed. Today, in the age of ‘Netflix and chill’, relationships are a maze of complex terminology and the dating etiquette needs a manual to decipher. Take the term ‘situationship’. Do you know what it is? Well, neither do we. Not quite, anyway. Enter Dr Antonio Borrello, an American psychologist, relationship coach and YouTuber. In one of his YouTube videos, he explains what it is and describes the seven signs that you are in one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I guess you could call it a pseudo relationship,” he says. “It is somewhere in the middle―between friends-with-benefits and a committed relationship. You start seeing a person, you go on dates and you start doing things regularly. There’s definitely a chemistry that leads to physical intimacy and sex. But there is no talk of commitment, relationship, exclusivity or future goals.... The chances are, if you have dated recently, you have been in this place and you know exactly what I am talking about.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tinder would agree. According to its 2022 ‘Year in Swipe’ report, young singles say that situationship is a valid relationship status. “Tinder saw a 49 per cent increase in members adding the new relationship intention to their profiles and over one in 10 surveyed young singles said they prefer situationships as a way to develop a relationship with less pressure,” states the report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is difficult to say whether the situationship is here to stay. But you know what is not? The traditional dinner date, which might be on its death bed. “For millions of young adults who started dating in the lockdown, 2022 was the year they returned to real life. Unlike previous generations, young daters today are setting their own pace and rules about love, life and everything in between,” says Taru Kapoor, general manager, Tinder and Match Group, India. “Tinder’s ‘Year in Swipe’ report revealed that in 2022 young daters were looking for shared experiences and casual activities to make the most of their first dates, with mentions of ‘picnic’, ‘stand up’ and ‘coffee dates’ increasing in Tinder India bios.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Dattavi Jariwala and her fiance, Vikas, their love was sealed over long car rides. When they first started talking, they would text each other till 3am. Once, after getting three hours of sleep, the duo went on a ‘car date’. Vikas picked up Dattavi from her hostel at 6am, and they just randomly drove around, with the early morning fog misting the windshield. Finally, they reached a canal bridge, where they stopped the car and spoke for hours. “We did not see a single person around us and it felt like we were in some other world,” says Dattavi. “We loved that place so much that we went there on many dates, when we would watch movies in the car or organise small picnics.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Antra Srivastava, who works in operations management, and her partner, Nishit, enjoy going to concerts and shows for dates. Recently, they had a blast at a Prateek Kuhad concert in Gurugram. Recalling an exceptionally memorable date, Antra says, “We were chilling in a cafe in Manali when we decided to explore the place. We walked from Old Manali to Vashisht. The hike is beautiful with apple orchards on both sides. We had to cross a river on a dilapidated bridge. I get anxious about doing anything adventurous, so Nishit found a restaurant hidden in the woods, fed me and then took my hand, asked me to close my eyes and helped me across. It was magical.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If it is long bike rides for senior quality analyst Bodhisatwa Malik and his girlfriend, Stella, who live 25km apart in Kolkata, it is board games for Chennai-based couple Harsha and Pratik. “We played a few games together [at a cafe called Dialogues where I met Pratik],” says Harsha, a teacher. “We got to know one another better and started dating. As the relationship progressed, we found joy in other things, like painting and cooking.” According to Malik, while cafe dates have their charm, if you want to have long conversations, then the ghats in Kolkata are a great option. “Many times, we have ended up at one, like the Ganga ghat, and spent ages chatting over chai.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr Chandni Tugnait, life coach and Tinder’s relationship expert, says that the widespread isolation, uncertainty, and social distancing of the past two years have contributed to feelings of restlessness and a desire for change in how people approach dating. “The pandemic had highlighted the importance of human connection,” she says. “The isolation and seclusion definitely increased people’s interests for first dates to be more about activities, and daters are now picking more interesting, unique first date activities that help them really get to know each other. For young adults, these new forms of dating may be what they need to establish more profound, authentic connections with others in a low-pressure way. Additionally, this gives a sense of adventure and excitement to meet new people while understanding what one’s own dating preferences are.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And what do these young couples talk about while they are on their dates? Apparently, not about heartbreaks, superhero movies or Taylor Swift songs. They discuss heavy-duty issues like the Ukraine war, climate change, gender and mental health. “People have successfully tried to ward off these topics for ages, but not anymore,” says psychologist and relationship counsellor Ruchi Ruuh. “Due to the advances in social media, youngsters have stronger and more polarised views on social and political issues. We can tell about a person’s mindset based on what political party or leader they follow.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/car-rides-over-caviar-modern-dating-trends.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/car-rides-over-caviar-modern-dating-trends.html Sat Feb 11 11:43:25 IST 2023 paper-trails-tamara-sears-and-the-planetary-king-ebba-koch-art-books-review <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/paper-trails-tamara-sears-and-the-planetary-king-ebba-koch-art-books-review.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/2023/2/11/69-Paper-Trails-new.jpg" /> <p>Arpita Singh’s ‘This Could Be Us, You, Or Anybody Else’ (Multiple-plate etching, 2007) is a poignant reflection on the impact of globalisation on a modern Indian. It prominently features an aging couple against a backdrop of modern life. Many more such masterpieces by renowned Indian artists embellish the pages of Paper Trails: Modern Indian Works on Paper from the Gaur Collection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ranging from M.F. Husain’s ‘Yatra’ (lithograph,1950) to Jyoti Bhatt’s ‘Images of Saurashtra Embroidery’ (etching,1994), India’s eventful and sometimes violent modern history is captured on paper by these masters of art.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book features over 100 pictures in the form of watercolours, drawings, etchings, sketches and lithographs, taken from the collection of Sunanda and Umesh Gaur, the US-based art collectors. Paper, which has played an essential role in both Indian modernism and artistic production, is largely the medium of art. The pictures are a testament to the artists’ intimate relationship with paper as a means to express their creative thought.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The artists’ personal histories and the message they want to convey are categorised into six themes, including ‘topographic engagements’, ‘myth and religion’ and ‘abstractions’. The book powerfully depicts the complexities of Indian modernity and the way they play out in rural and urban realities. Whether it is spiritual conflicts or communal riots, the viewer is privy to the novel perspective of some of the country’s finest artists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>PAPER TRAILS: MODERN INDIAN WORKS ON PAPER FROM THE GAUR COLLECTION</b></p> <p><i>Edited by</i> <b>Tamara Sears</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Grinnell College Museum of Art in association with Mapin Publishing</b></p> <p><i>Price</i> <b>Rs2,500;</b> <i>pages</i> <b>232</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike those of his illustrious father Babur―the founder of the Mughal Empire in India―Humayun’s numerous achievements have not been recorded in detail. Describing his eventful reign from Agra (1530 to 1540) and Delhi (1555 to 1556), The Planetary King is a commendable effort by Austrian art and architectural historian Ebba Koch to chronicle the emperor’s intellectual and social life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The book follows Humayun’s travels and campaigns during the political and social disturbances of the early 16th century, and expounds on his lasting passion for the arts and sciences. Compiled upon the completion of two decades of conservation work at the Humayun’s tomb and the construction of a new museum by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the book beautifully reproduces hundreds of illustrations and photographs recounting Humayun’s life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His love for architecture, astrology and astronomy, which gave him the titles ‘planetary king’ and ‘sun king’, is skilfully brought out. He set up a planetary court centred around him as the glorious ‘sun king’. Architectural marvels such as the mystic palace and the floating gardens constructed during Humayun’s reign are all examples of his scientific temperament and patronage of the arts―central themes in the book. It is an engaging coffee-table book, combining visual appeal with engrossing text to provide a wholesome reading experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>THE PLANETARY KING(HUMAYUN PADSHAH:INVENTOR AND VISIONARYON THE MUGHAL THRONE)</b></p> <p><i>By</i> <b>Ebba Koch</b></p> <p><i>Published by</i> <b>Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Mapin Publishing</b></p> <p><i>Price</i> <b>Rs3,950;</b> <i>pages</i> <b>384</b></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/paper-trails-tamara-sears-and-the-planetary-king-ebba-koch-art-books-review.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/11/paper-trails-tamara-sears-and-the-planetary-king-ebba-koch-art-books-review.html Sat Feb 11 11:38:02 IST 2023 literature-nobel-prize-winner-abdulrazak-gurnah-about-his-works <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/literature-nobel-prize-winner-abdulrazak-gurnah-about-his-works.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/2023/2/3/65-Abdulrazak-Gurnah.jpg" /> <p><i>Hamza also had troubles on his mind. On many occasions he walked the shore road in the direction of the house where he once lived. He was there for several years, from when he was no more than a child taken away from his first home to when he ran away to join the schutztruppe.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hamza is the protagonist of Abdulrazak Gurnah’s latest novel, Afterlives (2020), about life in an unnamed coastal town in East Africa. It is set in the 1900s at the end of the German rule, when the British are about to take over. Hamza is fed up with life in his village and runs away to join the schutztruppe or the German army. What happens when he returns as a hardened ex-soldier forms the heart of the book.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is a poignant story written in Gurnah’s usual understated style. He does not intellectualise his subject, nor does he use any kind of showiness in his writing. But the themes are familiar―a return to home, a desire for belonging, the excesses of colonialism, both the claustrophobia and the charm of small-town life, the hardships of poverty…. As his long-time editor Alexandra Pringle said at the Jaipur Literature Festival, where Gurnah was the keynote speaker, “His stories are about small people set against large pieces of history.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In many ways, for Gurnah, writing is an act of resistance, against history being re-written from the victor’s perspective. Just like Hamza returning to his village, Gurnah describes walking through the streets of the town he grew up in, long after he had left Zanzibar for England after the revolution of 1964. “[I] saw the degradation of things and places and people, who live on, grizzled and toothless, and in fear of losing the memory of the past,” he said in his Nobel acceptance speech. “It became necessary to make an effort to preserve that memory, to write about what was there, to retrieve the moments and the stories people lived by and through which they understood themselves. It was necessary to write of the persecutions and cruelties which the self-congratulations of our rulers sought to wipe from our memory.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Much like his writing, Gurnah has a straightforwardness about him. He does not want to trim the truth, about himself or his stories, but neither does he want to amplify it for better effect. He is not afraid of coming across as mundane. Eloquence is not a compulsion. With Gurnah, what you see is what you get.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“For me, getting to the UK at the age [of 18] was filled with a sense of ‘What have I done?’,” he said at the JLF. “What have I landed myself into as a young, untravelled, unskilled and poor lad in this country that did not want me? The need to understand the feeling of loss, hostility, adventure and newness, and work all that out is what started me writing. It was not intended for anyone to see. It was just for me. There was a kind of pleasure in putting down all that self-pity and misery.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He remembers the monsoon winds to the island of Zanzibar travelling directly across the Indian Ocean. As a result, sailors from western India, southern Arabia, Somalia and various other places landed in Zanzibar when the northeast monsoons blew its way. Some stayed, others did not. But they left behind a beautifully complex mosaic of cultures, traditions and languages on the east coast of Africa. As a child, he remembers listening to tarab (a music genre popular in Tanzania and Kenya), Indian songs and Elvis Presley, and “packed Saturday morning cinemas in Zanzibar… all of us laughing and cheering as Tarzan outwitted and outfoxed another greasy African nasty….”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There was an innocence about his childhood, he says, because he knew so little. “It just felt so safe,” he says. “It is only later that you begin to see how fortunate you were to be in a place like Zanzibar, and to have enough to eat, friends to play with…. Not everybody had those things.” The acute sense of loss he felt in England and the peculiar experience of exile are splayed across most of his novels, from his first, Memories of Departure (1987), about a 15-year-old boy who seeks to escape the violence and poverty of his village, to Desertion (2005), about an Englishman who falls in love with an African woman. But his breakthrough work is considered to be the Booker-shortlisted Paradise (1994), about a 12-year-old boy sold to a trader by his father. The idea for the book struck him when he returned to Zanzibar in 1984.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There was an amnesty then, and we were allowed to go back if we wanted to, so I took that opportunity,” he says. “There was a leak in the roof of the flat I was then living in. We managed to persuade the insurance company to pay £600 to have this repaired, so I stuffed some newspapers into the leak and used the money to buy a ticket to Zanzibar.” One day, in his native town, he observed his father walking to the mosque and thought how old he looked. Gurnah began imagining how his life would have been in the early 1900s, when he was just a boy and European colonialism was taking hold in East Africa.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“What would it have been like for someone like him, seeing the world changing around him, seeing strangers coming and taking control of his society and culture, and the way he did things? That was the idea behind Paradise―European colonialism and its consequences,” he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In each of his novels, he has not departed from familiar themes, but has only refined them with a style that is refreshingly sparse. “I only write what I know,” he says. “If you asked me to write about the life of a millionaire, I would not be able to.” And when what he writes is right, it is almost like he can shut his eyes and hear it like a piece of music.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/literature-nobel-prize-winner-abdulrazak-gurnah-about-his-works.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/literature-nobel-prize-winner-abdulrazak-gurnah-about-his-works.html Sat Feb 04 14:06:01 IST 2023 comedy-duo-jordindian-hits-future-plans-lifestyle <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/comedy-duo-jordindian-hits-future-plans-lifestyle.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/2023/2/3/68-Nasser-Al-Azzeh-aka-Nas-and-Vineeth-Kumar.jpg" /> <p>In ‘Basti Bounce’, a groovy single released by Bengaluru-based hip-hop star Brodha V on January 11, the comedy duo JordIndian (comprising Vineeth ‘Beep’ Kumar and Nasser Al Azzeh aka Nas) features in a colourful street fight. The song, powered by Brodha V’s amazing lyrical prowess and JordIndian’s hilarious acts and dance moves, has already got over 23 lakh views on YouTube. The duo’s quirky and relatable comedy sketches, often delivered in Indian and Arab accents, are inspired by the streets, their surroundings and the people they know. Over the last six years, they have created a unique fandom, with over 27.5 lakh followers and 5.5 crore views on YouTube alone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Two friends, one from Jordan and the other from India, came together and said, ‘Hey... Let’s make some videos’. Hence the journey of JordIndian began,”―that is how they describe their origin on their YouTube bio. But there are backstories that go back to the late 1980s. “My dad is a Jordanian with a Palestinian bloodline. And my mom is Indian,” says Nas. “My dad studied in Bengaluru, and my mom grew up there. They met through mutual friends. I was born [in the Middle East]. We were in Kuwait at that time. With the war going on in 1990, we had to move. We went to Jordan for a while, and then came back to Bengaluru. So, I am half-Jordanian. And that explains the Jord part of JordIndian.” The two were batch-mates in senior secondary school in the late 2000s, and they bonded over a joke by Canadian stand-up comedian Russell Peters. According to one version of the story, Nas was explaining a joke to a friend, and Kumar eavesdropped on the conversation and gate-crashed into it. They soon realised that they were from the same neighbourhood, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Another thing on which we connected was hip-hop,” says Nas, who founded The Black Ice Crew, a professional break-dancing crew. The crew―which has brought to the limelight some of the top break-dancers in the country―was formed after Nas’s high school girlfriend told him that he was no dancer. “Black Ice became a crew with B-boys, breakers and beatboxers.…,” says Nas. “And, an emcee (pointing at Kumar). We started in college. At that point, I guess we thought that this was going to be a career. Which went to a certain point where we were making a living out of it. And then we founded JordIndian, which made better money.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was during his emceeing days that ‘Beep’ became Kumar’s stage name. There are multiple narratives about how that happened. “The real story is that I was a good child when I was growing up. I never used bad words. And, if someone ever used bad words, I used to cover their mouth and say, ‘Beep’,” says Kumar with a deadpan expression. “So, one of our friends, Likith, gave me the name Beep. And it just stuck with me.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>JordIndian was formed in 2016―eight years after Russell Peters brought the duo together. Before that, they were pursuing different careers. “Nas was in Dubai and I was in Mumbai for a while,” says Kumar. “We were creating content for other people. But whenever we came back, I think we missed each other a lot more.” Nas adds that there came a point when both of them were not enjoying their respective jobs. “We were sitting in the car and discussing people putting up all these cringe videos,” he says. “We were like, we can do so much better probably. So, we gave it a try.” They gave themselves six months to “follow their gut” and try things out. “And here we are, six years later,” says Kumar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>‘Smoke Shisha, Play Fifa’, a music video they released four years ago, is JordIndian’s greatest hit so far. The rap which spoke about the Arab elites’ fancies and fantasies got more than 1.9 crore views on YouTube. The idea of ‘Smoke Shisha, Play Fifa’ was born during the duo’s trip to Jordan around 11 years back. “Beep asked this genuine question: What do people do here for fun? At that point, there was no party scene in Jordan,” says Nas. “There was no real place to go except to visit monuments and all of that stuff, and food. And what people did for fun in the evenings was, literally, to smoke shisha and play Fifa. Likewise, all our videos come from real-life experiences.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the pandemic, the duo came up with the song, ‘Eat, Sleep, Binge, Repeat’, to pay homage to their lifestyle that became the world’s staple during the lockdown. “We were always following that lifestyle. Eat, Sleep, Binge, Repeat. It is just that the world caught up with us during the pandemic,” says Kumar. “And we became 2X that lifestyle,” adds Nas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This ‘take it easy’ philosophy reflected in their answers when THE WEEK quizzed them about their long-term plans. “We are the kind of guys who focus on short-term plans―and that also does not work out. So, we do not go for the long-term,” says Nas. “Our next short-term plan is to go eat lunch. So that is how we plan things.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And, when making comedy, they are not too concerned about being “politically correct”. “Being politically correct and incorrect changes every six minutes in this day and age. So, we try not to focus too much on it,” says Kumar. But they accept that what people see onscreen is a “censored, watered down” version of what they talk about behind closed doors. “When we talk to each other, it is always in an unadulterated way. It is raw,” says Nas. “One day, when the world is ready for it, hopefully, we can share that version of us, too.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/comedy-duo-jordindian-hits-future-plans-lifestyle.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/comedy-duo-jordindian-hits-future-plans-lifestyle.html Fri Feb 03 13:33:44 IST 2023 lockwood-and-co-netflix-series-review <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/lockwood-and-co-netflix-series-review.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/2023/2/3/70-Lockwood-and-Co.jpg" /> <p>Can ghosts be banished using rapiers? Just ask Lockwood &amp; Co., a scrappy teenage firm that specialises in tackling ghosts. The place is London, the year, unknown. But, it has been 50 years since 'the problem'―ghosts walking among humans and killing with their touch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Only children can see, hear or sense them. And so, the city has teen-run agencies that tackle haunted spaces with adult supervision. Lockwood &amp; Co. is one of these agencies, sans the grown-up oversight.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The show begins with 'Listener' Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes) joining the firm of orphaned Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman) and George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati). She has escaped from a mother who used her powers to make money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The show is based on a series of Jonathan Stroud books by the same name. Joe Cornish has adapted the initial two―The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull―for the first season. Cinematographers Oliver Curtis, Ben Wheeler and Thomas Townend bring in the noir look and feel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The young-adult series does not have any dull moments, which is in part helped by the gripping background score. Witty banter between the trio and well-placed jump-scares keep viewers hooked. A twist or reveal at the end of each episode keeps them guessing. Relics, grave-digging, trapping spirits and more, the show is right up the alley for a fantasy fan who likes a touch of noir.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are rival ghost-hunting agencies and meddling adults. There is great chemistry between Chapman and Stokes. If you feel Stokes looks familiar, it is because she played Francesca in Bridgerton. Hayley Konadu as Flo Bones, a relic woman introduced mid-season, does not fail to impress. Hadji-Heshmati as the quirky researcher is instantly likeable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first episode sees the trio being called on by an elderly woman who thinks she might be haunted by the ghost of her husband who died in a fall down the stairs. But on closer inspection, they find out there is a second, more violent spirit haunting the house. All hell breaks loose.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The series has a Harry Potter meets Stranger Things meets Scooby-Doo vibe. There are enough items of intrigue, including a mystery door in the Lockwood home and a talking skull, that would make the audience look forward to coming seasons. The books are meant for children aged nine to 12, but the show should be watched by teens―the younger ones would probably be scared out of their wits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Come Halloween, if the family is stuck for a show to binge, this is the one to turn on.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/lockwood-and-co-netflix-series-review.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/02/03/lockwood-and-co-netflix-series-review.html Sat Feb 04 14:03:42 IST 2023 jaipur-literature-festival-poetry <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/jaipur-literature-festival-poetry.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/2023/1/28/63-Javed-Akhtar-and-Shabana-Azmi.jpg" /> <p><i><b>The soul is restless, what is the torment of one heart If the heart itself is a flame, then what is the mere burning of love?</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>―<b>Kaifi Azmi</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi―poetry’s power couple―take the stage at the Jaipur Literature Festival, there is hushed silence. But one smile from them is enough to loosen loud whoops and claps from the audience. It is interesting to note that the crowd is mostly made up of college students and young professionals. Their rockstar status among the youth might perhaps indicate that India still has space for both the Jay-Zs and the Rumis of the world. Indian poetry is still alive and kicking, and men with lip piercings and arm tattoos are reciting ghazals to their girlfriends. Which begs the question, how romantic is Javed to his lady love?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“You know, women keep asking me that,” said Shabana. “They think I am so lucky to have a poet for a husband. But the truth is that there is not a single romantic bone in my husband’s body.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To which, Javed replied, “Well, you don’t see a trapeze artist at a circus perform acrobatics at home, do you?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is nothing as hip as a husband ribbing his wife in front of hundreds of people and the audience lapped it up. Romance was a fitting subject to discuss as it featured majorly in the books they were releasing at the festival―Dhanak and Daaera―companion volumes of poetry by their respective fathers. The poems in Dhanak (rainbow) were written by Javed’s father, Jan Nisar Akhtar, and chosen by Shabana, while the poems in Daaera (circle) have been written by Shabana’s father, Kaifi Azmi, and chosen by Javed. Akhtar and Azmi were romantic poets and revolutionaries. They were part of the Progressive Writers Association and both Javed and Shabana reminisced about growing up with the writers of the association, which included names like Krishan Chander, Ismat Chughtai, Sardar Jafri and Rahi Masoom Raza. “What is it if not sheer good luck that I had the close company of these great writers and poets since my childhood and boyhood years,” writes Javed in his introduction to Daaera. “In my youth, I asked them countless questions about literature, language and life, and they, like indulgent elders, gifted me the keys to countless locked doors.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One might say that the Jaipur Literature Festival has aged well. Now in its 16th edition, the festival is like the woman who might have grown slightly weathered around the edges, but still manages to attract a retinue of admirers. There was William Dalrymple, of course, who might write about the past, but was very much present at the festival. His hearty guffaw could be heard from a mile away, belying the notion that historians are crusty old fuddy-duddies in ill-fitting suits and half-moon glasses. The highlight this time was the 2021 Nobel prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah who delivered the keynote address. When asked about how he kept himself humble after receiving the Nobel, he quipped, “It’s not that hard actually. Because people around you always reassure you about how stupid you look or how badly dressed you are.” There were many other heavyweights, too, like Pulitzer-winner Caroline Elkins, Booker-winner Marlon James and the usual suspects. After all, what is a literary festival without Shashi Tharoor?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The mood was jovial, with youngsters in ripped jeans and kitten heels lounging around on the lawns taking photos of each other, seemingly not caring about the state of Indian democracy, how Europeans saw India before the age of exploration, the future of education or the many other topics that were being discussed at the various sessions. Then there were the intellectuals, who spoke a different language altogether that included words like “iconoclasm”, “mendicant” and “polemics”. Finally, there was the press, shamelessly stockpiling the packets of bourbon biscuits that were being handed out in the media lounge. Even the food was authentic, with dishes whose names sounded like lyrics from old black-and-white movies. After four days of it, however, frequenting the stalls selling Belgian waffles and hot chocolate did not feel like you had sold out on your Indian heritage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But more authentic than the food was the poetry, simply because there is nothing like poetry to universalise a personal experience and make you feel included in another’s feelings and thoughts. Near the end of each day was the poetry hour, when such renowned poets as Makarand R. Paranjape, Jerry Pinto, Frank Baes, K. Satchidanandan and Meena Kandasamy recited from their collections. Kandasamy read from her latest work, Tirukkural: The Book of Desire, her translation of the ancient Tamil poet and philospher, Tiruvalluvar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to her, the Tirukkural is as relevant today as it was centuries ago. “This is something you can read to your lover in bed,” she said. “But it is also something that you can tweet. The couplets are very tech-savvy. There is one which goes: ‘A little stolen glance is so much more than so much sex.’ Like this you can tweet.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If Moin Mir (who proved that everyone with movie star looks did not want to become a movie star) elaborated on the wonders of sufism, Indian-American scholar Nikki-Guninder Kaur Singh expounded on Sikh poetry, specifically Guru Nanak’s writings in the Guru Granth Sahib. “Even as it incorporates sufism and the Hindu bhagats, the Guru Granth Sahib is sheer poetry,” she said. “The hymns on [the Mughal invader] Babur, for example, are some of the most powerful war poetry. You can almost hear the crackle of the flames in which women committed sati and the veils of Muslim women being ripped apart. The swords clashing, the guns going off…. He records all that in his poetry.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But along with religion, romance and revolt, there was space for satire, too. Frank Baes narrated a poem on waking up one day as a DJ. Satchidanandan rapped to a poem on walking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Walk, walk, walk together</i></p> <p><i>Walk with the questions, yet to find an answer….</i></p> <p><i>Walk with the last leaf of a felled tree</i></p> <p><i>Walk with the consonants of a proscribed poem</i></p> <p><i>Walk with the blood from a stabbed wound</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And as you walked away from the festival, into a night sky clamouring with the call of circling hawks, the sound of poetry resonated in your heart, even as the verses faded from your mind.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/jaipur-literature-festival-poetry.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/jaipur-literature-festival-poetry.html Sat Jan 28 14:59:37 IST 2023 aanchal-malhotra-debut-novel-kerala-literature-festival <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aanchal-malhotra-debut-novel-kerala-literature-festival.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/2023/1/28/66-Aanchal-Malhotra.jpg" /> <p>A memory―intangible to the core―shared by her mother helped oral historian and author Aanchal Malhotra give form to her first novel―The Book of Everlasting Things. Malhotra’s maternal grandfather used to work as a chemist at a pharmaceutical firm. He would bring home samples of fragrances, and mix them with the water in the air cooler during summer. And, the house would smell like heaven. That scent still lingers―both in the memory of Malhotra’s mother and in her own wish for a whiff of it. Traces of it―malleable as memory is―seeped into Malhotra’s imagination and helped her shape her novel’s protagonist―Samir.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Samir hails from a family of perfumers in pre-partition Lahore. It is amid the perfume bottles in his family-owned ittar shop that Samir falls in love with Firdaus, an apprentice calligrapher. But their love story gets shaped―and reshaped―during the partition, which divided not just land but people as well into Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Released in December, the novel evokes a mixture of scents―of people and places, too―that survived that bygone era of terror and fear.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Partition history is Malhotra’s forte. A decade ago, she became a collector of memories, materials and even sighs of that bloody age of mass exodus. Her Remnants of a Separation (2017) revisited partition via objects that refugees carried across the border. Her second book, In the Language of Remembering (2022), traced the “long-term, cross-border, generational legacy of the partition”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fiction though was uncharted territory for her. “I had a lot of trouble moving from being a historian to a novelist because the narrative of fiction is so malleable; it does things that we do not expect,” she told THE WEEK during the recently held Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode. “With non-fiction, there is so much control over things. There is so much planning involved, and you rarely deviate from it. But, to take a plunge into fiction was very hard.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though fiction is demanding, it is also rewarding, Malhotra quickly added. “I wrote about the partition in a very different way [from my previous work] in the novel,” she said. “I do not think I could have worked on the novel without doing all the work I did in oral history because it helped to make the narrative very authentic. The specificity of memory you collect from people is very rarely seen in novels. And, I think I was happy to be able to bring that into the narrative.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Malhotra began working on her novel in 2016, around three years after she ventured into the process of recording oral histories of the partition. “Being an artist trained in metal engraving, my introduction to oral history was purely out of interest,” she said. “I realised very late that my family also had been impacted by the partition. And, I began to think that the generation after me would know even less. So, I started recording stories, which I would later realise was oral history.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both her maternal grandparents came from Lahore. Her paternal grandfather hailed from Malakwal, a small town in the Mandi Bahauddin district of Pakistan’s Punjab, about 250km from Lahore, and her grandmother from Dera Ismail Khan in the North-West Frontier Province. However, as a child, she never heard any stories of the partition. “I think that created a vacuum around my knowledge because I grew up in the 1990s with the knowledge of Kargil war,” said Malhotra. “The history on both sides of the border is limited. So, for millennials and those who came after, there is a very complicated negotiation we have to do with what we hear in the news and in the history books versus what we may hear at home as stories.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And, when she started collecting stories, Malhotra found that the stories ranged from those of belonging, longing and kindness to stories of violence and hate, prejudice and bias. Her novel is a reminder, of sorts, of the need to preserve these memories and histories that were carried, or hid deep inside, by the last generation that was a witness to world wars and the partition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though its malleability may have helped her in shaping her novel, Malhotra said memory was a complicated thing. “Memory is not a recording device,”she said. “What we remember does not appear as a picture. It can be altered by the contemporary world and events.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For that very reason, different generations may feel differently about the partition, observed Malhotra. She cited the story of a young man, whose family had migrated from Jammu during the partition and now lived in Pakistan, close to the border. “From his village, he could see a very foggy sort of image of a temple across the border,” she said. “And, later in life, he would learn that it is the Vaishno Devi Temple. India and Pakistan had just fought the Kargil war, and that image of the temple caused the young man great anxiety because it is enemy territory. However, he would be surprised to hear his father speak about the temple with a lot of warmth…and [he] longed to go back to that temple and see Vaishno Devi again.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though she did not hear many partition stories at home as a child, she would hear the word ‘refugee’ a lot. “My paternal family lived in a refugee camp for nearly a decade,” said Malhotra. “And, that is where my [paternal] grandparents met, fell in love and got married. My grandfather (Balraj Bahri Malhotra) started a bookshop (Bahrisons Booksellers) in what was refugee market [Khan Market] in Delhi. He would always [talk] about the [family’s] shop in refugee market. So, as a child, I heard that word a lot, but I did not understand the larger connotation it has.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Malhotra also remembers her grandparents talking of the villages on the ‘other side’ of the border. This ‘other side’ did not register in her mind as Pakistan, but as “some mythical land “with mango orchards, fields, local bazaars and a “village version of happiness”. She is sure that her grandparents―from both sides―longed to visit those villages. “But no one ever did,” she said. “And, I was the first person who went there to rediscover anything that had been left behind.” And, find she did.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aanchal-malhotra-debut-novel-kerala-literature-festival.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aanchal-malhotra-debut-novel-kerala-literature-festival.html Sat Jan 28 14:53:15 IST 2023 vineet-bhatia-chef-french-cruise <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/vineet-bhatia-chef-french-cruise.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/2023/1/28/68-Bhatia-during-his-Antarctica-trip-new.jpg" /> <p>Andrew Denton, a well-known Australian television producer and presenter, once said, “If Antarctica were music, it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.” Denton would know as he would be on his eighth visit to Antarctica this January.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hopping on a cruise to the southernmost end of the world, hobnobbing with seals and penguins at sub-zero temperatures―all for nearly 012 lakh per person―is a dream in itself. What makes it dreamier are the wine and starters served on a table as you look at tall waves lash on to French glass windows as the cruise moves along the Drake Passage―the patch of sea with the choppiest waters in the world, at the tip of South America where the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans meet. Recently, Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, 55, set sail to Antarctica on board a French cruise liner with his son and a group of 150 passengers. Close to a hundred of those passengers were “uber-rich Indian residents and NRIs”. The group set sail from the Argentinian city of Ushuaia, also called ‘the end of the world’. On board, he served “authentic, Indian comfort food” to “some of the wealthiest Indian families, all of whom were mostly vegetarians and Jains from Gujarat, Kolkata and abroad. There were children, youngsters and also the elderly,” Bhatia tells THE WEEK. This was just one among his “plentiful ultra-rich, exquisitely crafted experiences”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having cooked for the who’s who of the world, including prime ministers and presidents, Bhatia was recently awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)―a first for a Michelin-starred chef of Indian origin―by King Charles III for his “services to the UK cuisine, to hospitality and to international trade”. That exclusive honour has come to him 30 years after he arrived in London, after quitting his job at The Oberoi’s flagship Kandahar restaurant. In less than a decade of his arrival, he earned his first Michelin star for Zaika in 2001, becoming one of only two Indian chefs to do so then (Atul Kochhar, who was with Tamarind, was awarded the Michelin star the same year). “I think it was a breakthrough for Indian food because finally we were being recognised and acknowledged,” recalls Bhatia. He went on to open two Rasoi restaurants―one in Chelsea, London, and another in Geneva, Switzerland. They won Michelin stars in 2006 and 2009, respectively. At present, Bhatia has 11 restaurants to his name across the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alongside his global stature, it is his love and passion for Indian spices and gourmet-style vegetarian cooking that has him catering to some of the most affluent Indian families across the world, who, he says, have “plenty of money to burn at exquisite destinations for very personalised experiences”. But what makes Bhatia the go-to guy for the most unforgettable culinary experiences? “I think it has to do with this creative, innovative spin to the taste and presentation of what I am involved with that works,” he says. Take his spin on papad, for instance, which is mostly accompanied with chutneys in restaurants across India. This, in any of his restaurants, might be made with sago and then topped with tuna and mango kachumber. His desi cooking has a modern twist to it―char-grilled lamb chop with beetroot butter, cashew-crusted lamb kofta, blue cheese and mushroom truffle naan, dahi bhalla ice-cream, wild mushroom khichdi, chocolate samosa, grated chocolate on lobster and coffee on kebabs. “I think what I have been able to do is evolve the palate of the non-Indian in a way that they are much more at comfort with Indian food and spices and enjoy it a lot more, appreciate it a lot more than ever before,” says Bhatia, who has been the culinary ambassador for the Indian government in the UK for the past three years. “Their palates have kind of been trained and treated over the years to a certain kind of modern Indian food.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the high-end, ultra-expensive luxurious cruise, however, it was the most basic fare that the patrons paid for―“khichdi, dal and rice, Jain samosas and chhole and dhoklas”. “The thing is, in the five-day long journey, you cannot possibly stay on pizzas, pastas and sandwiches,” he says. “We Indians crave for our desi fare. Wherever Indians go, they like to carry their food or their chef with them. In fact, that an Indian Michelin-starred chef was also present helped in the sale of tickets for the cruise.” Also, being at sea is not easy. “Everybody was seasick at some point with nausea, vomiting and a severe lack of appetite,” recalls Bhatia. “The waves can go up to 5m. So, literally, the entire ship begins to shake. That is when you want to have the simplest of meals.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Antarctica is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bhatia’s culinary adventures. In 2018, he trekked to the base camp of Mount Everest to set up a pop-up restaurant for 10 lucky diners who flew in via a helicopter. And then there was the seven-course meal hosted for the UK ambassador at his residence in Doha during the FIFA World Cup. The next level of ultra luxury for the rich Indian will be very personalised travels with non-disclosure agreements. “My most memorable was the one in the Swiss Alps with an Indian family,” says Bhatia. “I cooked exclusively for 10 [people] over two days. It was magical because it was highly personalised.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For someone who is constantly cooking and tasting food all day, how does he keep fit? “I do tend to put on weight but I do not smoke or drink,” he says. “I go low on carbs, fats and high on proteins.” His breakfast is just a single egg and brown toast. His lunch is done by 1pm, and dinner by 6.30pm, “before work starts and guests begin trickling in,” he says. “If I am still hungry and tired by the end of it, around 12am or later, I simply snack on a bowl of dal and another of curd.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhatia was once asked if there was anything he could not make, and he cheekily replied, “I am bad at making a daughter.” He has two sons, aged 23 and 24. Neither has taken after him. The elder one works at the front office of Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai and the younger one lives in London and works as a system analyst. He wears the toque at home, too. He cooks, his wife does the dishes and the boys lay the table and clear it afterwards.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/vineet-bhatia-chef-french-cruise.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/vineet-bhatia-chef-french-cruise.html Sat Jan 28 16:54:02 IST 2023 aasmaan-bhardwaj-interview-kuttey <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aasmaan-bhardwaj-interview-kuttey.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/2023/1/28/70-Aasmaan-Bhardwaj.jpg" /> <p>A lot was riding on Kuttey. It was the first Bollywood film of the new year after a terrible 2022; it had some of the finest actors in the industry―from Tabu to Naseeruddin Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma and Kumud Mishra; the dashing Arjun Kapoor carried the film on his shoulders; and the film was the directorial debut of Aasmaan Bhardwaj, son of veteran director Vishal Bhardwaj and singer Rekha Bhardwaj. However, it bombed at the box office. But Aasmaan, who studied screenwriting at New York University, says it was never meant to be a commercial blockbuster. Excerpts from an interview:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Q/What is your own assessment of Kuttey?</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b>I’m too close to it right now to analyse it at all. Maybe two to three years down the line, when I watch it again, I would be more objective and critical. Right now I am very happy with the film I made because it is what I wanted to make right from the beginning and it has come out exactly like―in fact, better than―my visualisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Q/The reviews on social media and on the internet suggest that the film lacked the punch.</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b>I haven’t read the reviews. I’m glad at least the film is being talked about and is being reviewed. What matters is, whatever be the perception, at least people have watched it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Q/It didn’t do well commercially.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b>We made a film under budget, a little over 035 lakh. So, we have recovered our money and are not worried about losing money at all. It was anyway never meant to be a commercial blockbuster film.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Q/As a first-timer did you think Kuttey was a safe film to make?</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b>Of all the scripts I had written, we decided that this is the one I wanted to make first. We want to make real cinema. Not write blockbuster films. Kuttey wasn’t a safe bet or anything like that for me just because I was starting out as a debutant. In fact, it was the most challenging. The shooting sequences were very tough.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i><b>Q/How is your cinema different from your father’s?</b></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A/</b>Mine is not too far from his. I like Anurag Kashyap, Sriram Raghavan and many from abroad, too. So, mine is an influence of all of them put together. I’m selfish and greedy to the extent that I write and make what I want to see first. If I like it, then I’m sure my audience will like it, too. I cannot play to the gallery and I cannot use formulae. Also, I’m lucky that I don’t have to worry about all that because I’m not producing my own films and not putting my own money. If an Aamir Khan’s film can fail at the box office, given his stature then, how can one really determine what drives the box office success? All we can do is to be true artists in ourselves.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aasmaan-bhardwaj-interview-kuttey.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/28/aasmaan-bhardwaj-interview-kuttey.html Sat Jan 28 16:58:23 IST 2023 challenges-faced-by-india-s-best-curators <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/challenges-faced-by-india-s-best-curators.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/2023/1/21/87-Premjish-Achari.jpg" /> <p>In 2010, Bhavna Kakar, the gallerist behind Latitude 28 in Delhi, launched the first issue of an art and design magazine called TAKE on Art. She distributed copies to a few friends and colleagues at an after-party, but the recipients were bemused to see 100 pages left blank. Was there a mistake in the printing? Did Kakar not get enough material to publish? They were soon enlightened about her intention: She wanted to get ideas from everyone on what to fill the pages with. Soon, people wrote in with a bevy of ideas, articles and views on fashion, art, film and culture.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was a dynamic way of launching a magazine. And that has always been Kakar’s modus operandi, even while starting her gallery that year, an exercise fraught with risks, coming as it did soon after the economic crisis of 2008-09. But she was bold enough to try, because she was certain there was a need for radical experimentation in art, and for a space where commercial interests did not dominate and a curator’s role was not restricted to just showcasing artists. Today, Latitude 28 is one of the favoured destinations for art lovers in Delhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Often, it is difficult to strike a balance between what the artists and the audience wants, says Kakar. And the market does tend to influence what a gallery showcases. “For example, if photography is doing well, and if it is finding a larger audience among art lovers, then gallery owners will look to showcase photography exhibitions,” says Kakar, who adds that Indian art is no longer emulating western trends, but has found its own identity. There was a time when Indian artists went abroad to learn modern art, inspired by Picasso and other impressionists. But today, they do not do that anymore. Although they do keep up with current trends in the art world through exhibitions happening world-wide, like the Venice Biennale and Documenta in Germany.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Premjish Achari, a Delhi-based curator and writer who currently teaches art history and theory at Shiv Nadar University, curation in India really came of age in the 1990s, as opposed to the west where a curator became the star figure in the 1970s. It took off in India especially after the market boom of the 2000s. But those days, it was all about thematic curation, where you picked a theme and included artists whose work fit in. The focus was on organising and selling artworks, and there was less emphasis on reflective or critical curation. It is only in the last 10 years or so that exhibitions emerged as a critical platform to ask important questions on caste, sexuality and other disparities. Now, there are interactive strategies and collaborations with diverse experts from other fields. It is no longer about just putting up paintings or sculptures. The scope of art has expanded to include poetry recitals, workshops and cultural performances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I usually avoid themes in the exhibitions I curate,” he says. “I ask larger, reflective questions with political, social and historical implications. Going by themes is easy. Instead, I use exhibitions as a research platform. For example, I might explore a question on the relevance of paintings―or image-making with your hands―at this juncture in history when so much of art is digital.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is also one of the curators of the students’ biennale at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale this year, which is a whole different game according to him. “The main difference is scale,” he says. “You have to think about logistics, and about customs and clearance of foreign artworks. Things are manageable in the small-scale format, but for a biennale, the responsibility goes beyond display. It is more about event management. You have to worry about day-to-day operations―about the volunteers needed, of keeping the venue clean, and a host of other issues.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shubigi Rao, the curator of the main biennale, agrees. One of her priorities was to give voice to subaltern histories and stories that were not given enough recognition globally. “If you have a modicum of power as the curator of a biennale of this scale and size, the least you can do is to make space for people who do not get a chance to be heard or seen. So, it is not like I did anything special here. All I have done is what should be the norm.” A challenge she faced was in the positioning of exhibits. “It was very clear to me that there should be a flow between the works. There were massive limitations of access to the venue, but despite that, you can really make things sort of speak to each other….”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While traditional art buyers remain the primary force driving the market, the secondary sales through auctions are also substantial. “The sales [from auctions] in 2022 was around Rs1,500 crore in India,” says Ashwin R. Rajagopalan of Ashvita’s Art Gallery in Chennai. According to him, good curation is like pairing wine and cheese. It is a subtle art that calls for a discerning palate. He has to choose the work of artists keeping in mind the taste of the audience, while at the same time not compromising on the standard of art displayed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And it is not just the larger questions of art that occupy these curators. “Curation is a very uncertain job,” says Achari. “It does not happen every month. There is no financial stability and payments due us are often delayed. It also depends on what the institution can offer, the experience and star value of the curator, and the economic or cultural value of a particular exhibition. Another problem is that there is no pedagogic training for curators in India. We have such a long history of art, yet we have rarely thought about a full-fledged course in art curation. There is a dire need to nurture the eco-system.”</p> <p>―<b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">With Nirmal Jovial and Anjuly Mathai</b><br> </p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/challenges-faced-by-india-s-best-curators.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/challenges-faced-by-india-s-best-curators.html Sat Jan 21 12:13:26 IST 2023 how-india-influenced-ikigai-author-francesc-miralles <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/how-india-influenced-ikigai-author-francesc-miralles.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/2023/1/21/90-Francesc-Miralles.jpg" /> <p>Which country was writer Francesc Miralles most fascinated by as a teenager?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A no-brainer, one would say, if one were to go purely by the success of his 2016 book―<i>Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life</i>―that he coauthored with Héctor García. But it was India, and not Japan, that called to him first. “India influenced me when I was 14 or 15, first through western writers like Hermann Hesse who spoke about India and then by reading about Ramana Maharshi, J. Krishnamurti and the Buddha,” Miralles tells THE WEEK on the sidelines of the recently held Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode. More on that Indian influence later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, at 55, the Catalan cannot escape the expectation that comes with the Ikigai fame―the book, first published in Spanish, “became viral in two, three weeks” and is now available in “66 languages”. “I had written many other books,” he says. “They were not centred around one topic. So, when I used to go to a literature festival, I would talk about my novel, travels or psychology. Since Ikigai got released, 99 per cent of my interviews or conversations are on this topic. So, I must accept that it is very famous around the world, and I am like an ambassador of this topic.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ikigai’s success, perhaps, is no surprise in an age where terms like anti-aging and reverse aging trend. The book―clothed in a beautiful powder blue cover with a burst of cherry blossoms―is the culmination of a crucial investigation that Miralles and García undertook in Okinawa, Japan. At the centre of the Okinawan way of life is the philosophy that everyone has an ‘ikigai’―a purpose for living. “And, in this place of centenarians, we discovered that there was a link between longevity and purpose,” says Miralles. “We started exploring what this purpose is, what ikigai is, and it opened a big field of investigation.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Okinawa, explains Miralles, is an island south of Japan, closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, with a subtropical climate. “The people are more like Indians: open-minded, warm, composed and making jokes,” he says. “We discovered this little secret of their happiness―that people never retire. They are always doing something that they are passionate about. Thus, ‘ikigai’ became the title of our book.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As part of their investigation, the authors interviewed many centenarians, read their medical reports, studied their nutrition, and even the climate. They found that Okinawans avoid overeating, and have a diet rich in antioxidants and vegetables. Doing low-intensity exercises, working in the garden and being in contact with nature is part of their daily routine. The authors observed that they have a strong community, too. “So, you don’t eat alone at home; you invite your neighbours,” says Miralles. “You don’t celebrate alone; you go out with other people. This sense of belonging to something bigger than you gives them a lot of trust and happiness and confidence.” But then, the authors also observed that people have individual passions, which give them a purpose in life even at an advanced age.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Born to a dressmaker and an administrative assistant in Barcelona in 1968, Miralles says he has had more than four ikigais at different phases of his life. “It is something that changes when you change as a person,” he says. “For instance, there was a part of my life where my ikigai was being a teacher of German language. But now I can hardly speak German. I studied German philology, literature and language. German was the most important thing for me then. And then through travels and different influences from people, I changed and then I started working as a translator, and then as a publisher. And then, being an editor [in a publishing house focused on self-help books] became the most important job in the world. And it was an obsession.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During his days as an editor, he wrote books under multiple pseudonyms. “For instance, there was Francis Amalfi to write books of quotes,” he says. “Amalfi is the name of a town in Italy. It was like working for the books industry, but behind [the scenes], not letting know who I am.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But at some point, a spiritual and personal crisis hit Miralles and he lost the motivation to go to work―he felt the editing job was more like a confinement. And, Miralles did something that many before him had done―leave everything and go to India. “It was my first trip to India,” he recalls. “The year was 1998. I abandoned my job, my salary, my security, everything and went to India to learn. I first came to Mumbai, then went to the south. I lived a couple of months cheaply, knowing the sadhus and masters, speaking with other travellers.” It was during that long journey through India that Miralles wrote his first novel Perdut a Bombai (Lost in Bombay). He also decided never to return to an office job. Thus, he became a freelancer, combining literature and journalism in his works. His literary career flourished over the last two decades and many of his works got translated into multiple languages. But then, a trip to Japan and Ikigai happened. Along with García, who has been living in Japan for more than 18 years, he explored the concepts of forest bathing and Ichigo Ichie (the art of making the most of every moment) in his subsequent books centred on Japan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Miralles, however, believes that concepts like ikigai are not strictly Japanese or eastern. “You could find the same in India, in a place where there are good relations between people,” he says. “Also, in a city like Barcelona, which is very different from Okinawa, we can apply ikigai.” He says this exchange of ideas between the east and the west has always been there, but reached a high point in the last century. “If you go to Tokyo, [you may feel that] it is a western city,” he says. “And if you go to some communities in Spain, you may feel like it is a place in India. So, I think that it is a good mixture because the western way of thinking is analytical. It is based on logic and the eastern mentality is more about exploration of the inner self. And I think these two dimensions go well together.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Miralles also has an explanation for westerners travelling to the east when in a spiritual crisis. “The word orientation itself comes from the orient,” he says. “Westerners go to oriental countries to look for ancient wisdom. And, I do not think that is because it is Indian [wisdom], but just because it is older wisdom. When we speak of mindfulness or yoga, for westerners, it is just one century [old]. But it existed here in India for over 3,000 years. So, when we go to Japan, to China, to India, it is not geographical, but coming to the roots, to the cradle of all these ideas.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/how-india-influenced-ikigai-author-francesc-miralles.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2023/01/21/how-india-influenced-ikigai-author-francesc-miralles.html Sat Jan 21 11:55:09 IST 2023