Monday, January 16, 2017

I knew that this girl had my back all the way without fail: Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone
Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone are on a whirlwind promotional tour of their Hollywood film, xXx: Return of Xander Cage. After the film's premiere in Mexico and London, they greeted fans in Mumbai recently . BT caught up with the two stars in a one-on-one chat and got them talking about their crackling chemistry and the deep friendship that they share. Excerpts...

Deepika, how would you compare your Bollywood and Hollywood debuts?

Deepika: I don't know if I can sum that up, but just the fact that Vin has been so generous, warm and welcoming gave me the confidence to do what I did. It is not a bond of friendship that is workrelated, I know that he will always be there for me. I felt the same way about Shah Rukh Khan when I debuted 10 years ago with Om Shanti Om.

Despite not knowing each other, you share great chemistry on screen...

Vin: It is clearly a new relationship and I am so blessed to have it. Working with her was incredible and effortless.It was like that from the beginning.The first time we met (while auditioning for Furious 7), everyone in the room felt that we had known each other for years. So, we knew that we had this wonderful chemistry from the very beginning, and I believe that chemistry is a valuable ingredient for any film. Deepika was just the perfect embodiment of the character (Serena) and the message of our movie. She plays this formidable woman who is dangerous, tough and adamant about her beliefs, but does not relinquish her compassion. There is a similarity between Xander (Vin) and her and that was fun to play with. It's great when you have a loyal partner in creating magic. I knew that this girl had my back all the way without fail.

Deepika, the xXx franchise is high on action. Was it difficult for you to pack a punch like Vin?

Deepika: There is so much more to the movie -along with the drama, adven ture and romance, there is also a mes sage. Serena and Xander are on a mis sion and they always have their guard up. One of our favourite scenes in the film is where the two characters have a real moment and start talking about life and philosophy .Vin: That scene from the story's perspective was necessary because it serves as a catalyst for change in our characters.That scene inspires the heroism that is needed for this movie.


Sonu Sood, who'll be host ing action superstar Jackie Chan in India next week, is ensuring that everything is in place before his arrival in the city.Before the international star lands in the city, Sonu will fly to Beijing on Tuesday for the promotions of their film, Kung Fu Yoga.The Bollywood actor is looking forward to experiencing the festivities that begin in China this week on the ocassion of the Chinese New Year (January 28).

Sonu is excited to carry along a few designer Jodhpuris for Jackie, who, we hear, is a fan of Indian traditional outfits. The martial arts star was fascinated with Jodhpuris after his visit to Rajasthan last year, for a schedule of their upcoming action adventure flick.

Back then, Sonu presented him a couple of traditional outfits with customised buttons bearing Jackie's initials. We're told this time around too, the Jodhpuris will have a personal touch for Chan.

Sonu elaborates, “Jackie loved wearing Indian costumes with traditional embroidery work. He feels Jodhpuris with salwars are very comfortable as well.“

He adds, “It seems Jackie has ensured Kung Fu Yoga is visible everywhere in China. I'm fascinated by his promotional skills.“

Post his return, Sonu will personally oversee the prep for Jackie's Mumbai visit and immerse himself in the promotions of their film that releases on February 3.

Friday, December 2, 2016

RUPAREL COLLEGE Students impress judges with their fiery performances

 Students impress judges with their fiery performances

Day 3 of the Oppo Bombay Times Fresh Face 2016 saw power-packed acts by youngsters at DG Ruparel College and SIES College of Arts, Science, and Commerce, Sion

The amphitheatre at DG Ruparel College was jam packed as students thronged in to support their classmates, who were participating. Celeb judge Ruhi Singh (Miss Universal Peace and Humanity 2014), thoroughly analysed their talents and gave feedback after each performance.

Leaving no stone unturned, students ensured that they were prepared enough for the same. So, armed with their guitars, dholaks and minus tracks, they performed on Hotel California, Sawaar Loon, Iktara, Louis Armstrong's La Vie En Rose and This Is What You Came For, among others.

The high point was seeing the otherwise shy contestants open up during their performances.Finalist Shefali Gupta's classical dancing to angrezi beats and a few aspiring rappers delivering foottapping performances engaged the audience. After answering ques tions on death penalty , gender issues and other current affairs, Tanay Patvardhan's act on Dharamvir Bharti's Andha Yug, and Rutuja Kulkarni's melodious vocals helped them win the title.


There was never a classroom that was this full of enthu cutlets! And it didn't matter if the students were all from different classes and facul ties. Cheering for every performer, the line-up of acts put up by partici pants here, was not only interesting but also high on ener gy. What added to their enthu siasm was the presence of Mr World 2016, Rohit Khandelwal, who shared anecdotes from his own journey and his early days as a model.

Shaking a leg to hardcore Bollywood numbers, students doing the Ganpati dance... there was plenty to watch out for. Sainethra Hariharan's rap in Korean and English and Neha Sheikh's belly dance on Jhingat were among a few highlights. An athlete at heart, first runner-up Tirupati JK's act as a tantric who spots a ghost was spine-chilling. Blessed with the gift of the gab, second-year mass media student Sapna Iyer was announced the first runner-up. However, it was Pratik Chordia's Shahid Kapoor-like moves on Gandi Baat and Insha Malik's rendition of Hamari Adhuri Kahani's song, Hasi, which helped them seize the title.

 Jazz music has been an integral part of the Hindi movie


Jazz music has been an integral part of the Hindi movie indus try since the early 1950s, an era that is also referred to as the Golden Age of film music. The unmistakable strains of the woodwind instruments -trombone, trumpet, saxophone and clarinet along with the piano, guitar and drums -would bring the genre alive with beautiful, seductive and swinging melodies.

Master composers like ShankarJaikishan, Madan Mohan, OP Nayyar, SD Burman and Salil Chaudhury worked in tandem with Goan music arrangers of the time, including Anthony Gonsalves, Frank Fernand, Chic Chocolate and Sebastian D'Souza, to create some of the most unforgettable jazz-influenced songs in the history of Hindi cinema.


Jazz was the pop music of its time.Back in 1920 upto the '60s, it featured heavily in the West.Composer Dhruv Ghanekar says, “Post Independence, there were many Anglo Indian musicians who studied jazz harmony .“ As film music grew and become mainstream in the '50s, a lot of these musicians who'd play at jazz clubs and hotels, began to look at the industry to supplement their income. Dhruv adds, “Many composers hired them to create orchestrations and arrangements for their melodies. Through the '60s and '70s, RD Burman, who was heavily influenced by Latin and jazz harmonies, worked with famous arrangers like Kersi Lord and Louis Banks.“


One of the finest genres to play around with, jazz lent itself beautifully to Indian music. Gore Gore O Banke Chhore (Samadhi 1950), Shola Jo Bhadke (Albela, 1951), Babuji Dheere Chalna (Aar-Paar , 1954), Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu (Howrah Bridge, 1958), Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si (Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, 1958) and Dil Deke Dekho (1959), are some examples.

Singer Shibani Kashyap says, “RD had a lot of jazz flavour in his music. In his song Jane Jaan Dhoondta Phir (Jawani Diwani, 1971) bass guitar and harmony was used for the first time in Bollywood.“

Songs with jazz influence have always been the ones that made you go `Aha!' -with their unexpected harmonies and challenging rhythms. The improvised solos of a saxophone would tug at your heart and that was what made Bollywood jazz so popular.


Though many music composers and singers love jazz, most feel that it is an acquired taste. Singer and music producer Clinton Cerejo says, “I would only use jazz if a film demanded it by design. It's a fine balance between doing something really musical and alienating your listener. I honestly don't think Bollywood songs can truly be called jazz songs. Jazz flavour, there are many . But a jazz song goes beyond an idiom and a genre. It extends to the life blood of the people that truly make that music. In fact, most true jazz musicians are often reluctant to call themselves that because it's not a title one can wear loosely .“ There are definite markers to a stereotypical traditional jazz arrangement like the use of a shuffle or swing beat, possibly an acoustic stand-up bass, a big band or horn section, etc.


“These days, Bollywood music has many styles.Though not many songs are actually jazz, there are some that have these elements,“ states songwritercomposer Mikey McCleary . The use of sax and trumpet often give a jazzy feel to Bollywood songs and so do walking base lines. Mikey adds, “I've noticed that there is more experimentation with harmony and using jazz chords in film songs.One of the characteristics of jazz is a swing feel in the rhythm. Jazz will continue to influence Bollywood music, but it may not always be a traditional jazz sound.“

Last year, composer Amit Trivedi came up with an entire album of songs with a heavy jazz influence -Bombay Velvet. Also, in the last two decades, there have been many Bollywood movies that have had a lot of songs with prominent jazz music.Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's Sheher Mera (One By Two, 2011) with lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya is a fab, jazzy number. The song, sung by Thomson Andrews, has drums by Gino Banks and saxophone by Ryan Sadri.Listening to this one makes you yearn for more jazz in movies.

Peppy numbers like Girls Like To Swing (Dil Dhadakne Do, 2015) and Aunty Ji (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, 2012) will remain popular. Slow tracks like Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein (Rock On!!, 2008), Aise Na Dekho (Raanjhanaa, 2013) and the title track of Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008) are fine examples of jazz.


Jazz is essentially improvised music and it won't go out of fashion easily. Dhruv says, “Audiences always want to be dazzled by virtuosity . I think music evolves and people's tastes change every decade or so, but the jazz influence is here to stay.“


The burkini and the hijab, typically worn by Muslim women, are at the epicentre of public attention. While the former creat ed a viral storm after a few French beach towns banned it, the latter has just shot into media glare.

Canada has got its first hijab-clad news anchor; a Muslim woman entered the semi-finals of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant wearing one; and a designer sent models on the ramp wearing a hijab at the New York Fashion Week to a huge applause. The recent instances are slowly making people sit up and take notice of this attire. Here's more on how it's becoming mainstream...


The trend goes back to this year's Rio Olympics when Egyptian Doaa El-Ghobashy became the first beach volleyball player to wear a hijab. Pictures of her facing a swimsuit-clad German player went viral. It was hailed as how volleyball should not be sexualised, but give room to players to wear what they want. “I have worn the hijab for 10 years. It doesn't keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them,“ Doaa said.


Halima Aden, 19, made headlines two days ago, when she became the first contestant to participate in Miss Minnesota USA pageant in a hijab and burkini. The Somali-American teenager made it to the semi-finals wearing a hijab. She also wore the full-body burkini dur ing the swimsuit competition, standing out in contrast to 44 other contestants. A website also quoted her as saying, “An extra layer of clothing does not define your beauty , because beauty is within.“


A Toronto television journalist, Ginella Massa, is believed to be Canada's first anchor to don a hijab on air. The 29-year-old ended her broadcast last week with this tweet: “That's a wrap! Tonight wasn't just important for me. I don't think a woman in hijab has ever anchored a newscast in Canada.“

She later added that her phone was ringing non-stop. “ As much as I knew it was important, I didn't expect the reaction that I received. My phone hasn't stopped buzzing for the last week,“ Massa said.


This October, Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan, defied the norm when she showcased all the models in hijabs for her collection at the New York Fashion Week, winning praise from critics for her glittering gowns, lacy trains and flowing tunics. Hasibuan was delighted and said it was “totally unexpected“. It was the first time that the event saw this happen.


Dubai girl Amna Al Haddad, a hijabi weightlifter, smashed stereotypes and inspired women around her when she created secured an Olympic berth for the UAE in weightlifting. She is the only Muslim to do so in a headscarf.


Australian schoolgirl, Stephanie Kurlow wants to be the first hijabi ballerina in the world and loves to pirouette in her headscarf. For someone who loves to dance, she wears a headscarf over her tutu and plans to open a dancing school for girls.


This November, a well-known international make-up brand launched a campaign featuring a woman in a hijab for the first time. In a statement, the woman, Nura Afia, said she never thought she would see Muslim women represented on this scale after “growing up and being insecure about wearing the hijab“.


A 15-year-old Saudi girl who lives in Germany -Rayouf Alhumedhi -proposed the idea of a series of `headscarf emoji'. She realised in a social media chat with her friends that there was no emoji to represent her, a headscarf-wearing woman. She then sent the proposal to an organisation that develops new emojis, saying, “In this day and age, representation is extremely important.“

The emoji was approved.

HAZEL KEECH IS NOW GURBASANT KAUR Actress Hazel Keech, who married cricketer Yuvraj Singh

Actress Hazel Keech, who married cricketer Yuvraj Singh on Wednesday , was rechristened Gurbasant Kaur according to Sikh tradition.Hazel, who is British-Mauritian by origin, was given the new name in accordance with the Indian tradition of marriage. Her new name was announced at the Anand Karaj ceremony at the gurdwara near Fatehgarh Sahib where the couple got married.

Running nearly four hours behind schedule, the grand wedding of Yuvraj and Hazel near Chandigarh finally concluded late on Wednesday evening. The couple was to reach the gurdwara in Fatehgarh Sahib at 12 noon, but instead landed there at nearly 4 pm.Resplendent in true Sikh avatar with a full grown beard, maroon turban and sherwani, Yuvraj looked every bit the dapper sardar groom. His bride, actress Hazel matched his charisma dressed in a deep maroon lehenga.

Before leaving for Fatehgarh Sahib, a haldi ceremony was held for Yuvraj with close buddy, actor Angad Bedi, in a Chandigarh hotel. The Anand Karaj was a sober affair attended by close family members from both sides. The only non-family attending the wedding were Angad and Gaurav Kapur, both sporting turbans for the gurdwara ceremony .

The Anand Karaj was followed by a post-wedding party at the newly constructed house of Yuvraj in Panchkula.The Indian cricket team was expected to attend this evening party.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The best part about this medium is that you don't have to please everyone: Ekta Kapoor

The best part about this medium is that you don't have to please everyone: Ekta Kapoor

Producer Ekta Kapoor, who now ventures into the digital space with ALT Balaji that will create original content, talks about her future plans. Excerpts...
After conquering TV and making a strong mark in films, what is the next big move for Balaji?

Both TV and films explore different sides of our personality . While TV is intended towards family , films are for communal viewing. At home, we watch things that are acceptable to the entire family . When you're with friends, you want something that you can enjoy together. But individual viewing is a bit subjective as it deals with your personal taste.The digital platform will be more selfexploratory , individualistic and a path-breaking medium to explore.

What prompted you to foray into the digital space?

I always think a person or a company's resilience is tested when they are willing to start once again. It's like a reboot for us. I think setting a start-up within the parent company is great. More than being an innovative and interesting idea, it gives us a chance to explore creative expression that neither TV nor film gives. For films, you need to have spending power to buy a ticket every week. TV is `one size fits all', it's for the masses, and what appeals to them may not appeal to you. Because of this, a lot of individuals were getting left off.

When we made Love Sex Aur Dhokha and The Dirty Picture, a whole new set of viewers were explored and an alternate set of audience opened up. The digital platform will explore different kind of content -one which has shorter formats, way more clutter breaking stories and an interesting world to explore.

Do you think you will be able to recreate the magic of television on this platform as well?

I don't know. In fact, you should never know these things. All you know is that a bunch of young creatives and new stories will find home with at least some people. The best part about this medium is that you don't have to please everyone, nor do you have to have any big names to get people into the theatre.You just have to have enough of drama and storytelling capabilities to get your kind of viewer end.
Ekta Kapoor

Ekta Kapoor
Ekta Kapoor

So can we call ALT Balaji a 2.0 version of Balaji?

I'm hoping that this start-up has its individual appeal. To be an updated version of Balaji, it can follow the structure of the parent brand but creatively , it will stand for everything Balaji Telefilms doesn't stand for. It's shorter and has stories of different worlds, something that the television side of us doesn't explore. Having said that, Balaji Telefilms will continue to do what it does best.

Are you going to be the home grown Netflix of India?

We are pleased with how consumers in India are discovering the digital space. Initially, Netflix was an aggregated model that went on to create original content.

However, our model is different.

Everything that we are creating is original and exclusive to our platform. Our strength has always been telling original stories and that will be our biggest USP with ALT Balaji as well.

What will the format be and when are you planning to launch this?

The launch will be early next year.

It's not the content that television has ever created. Some of them will have the urban sensibilities and the stickiness of television but most of the stories otherwise are going to be something that people won't expect from us. In fact, I think we will land up shocking quite a few.

What genres will be explored?

Storytelling should never be compartmentalised into genres.

Most of them are genre breaking but the worlds are interesting.

There are worlds we haven't explored on television or in film stories that we cannot tell in films because of financial viability or on TV because they could hurt sensibilities.

How does 2017 look for Balaji?

A new step, a new beginning. Like someone once said -starting a new business is like catching a running train. You never know if you'll get in, but if you stand there, you'll miss the train. For me, 2017 is a year of change, the year of `ALT'. Change may be good or bad but one thing for sure is that it's constant.

Have you signed on any big names?

Watch this space for more. We definitely can call them interesting names (smiles).