Team Viva says, the California-based songwriter and rapper Raja Kumari, with roots in Andhra Pradesh believes that she is the link between East and West.
She straddles the East-West divide with an ease that comes together in the combination of Indian classical dance with Western rap. And this amalgam is visible in the US born singer Raja Kumari new song I Did It which hit YouTube last week and instantly went viral. Dedicating it to her fans, she tells us, “I created this song for my fans who wanted to dance with me. I’m a dancer first, so it was exciting to create a true fusion of sounds. I always wanted to set classical dance within hip hop beats. I feel like we achieved this.” If you have missed it, then you certainly haven’t missed the Allah Duhai Hai number in Race 3.
She performs a mix of Indian ethnic dance forms and hip hop. Sung in English, she can be seen performing kathak, while the Indian taals (beats) can be heard in the background.
The songwriter and rapper is best known for her collaboration with artists including Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony, Knife Party and Fall Out Boy while her solo songs on YouTube are unique. “Music has always been a huge part of my life. I wanted to find a way to have fun every day and music was always that escape for me”, Raja Kumari says. The West Coast hip hop and rap influence was common ground for her. She became a household name in India, especially after the song City Slums (featuring Divine) which has successfully amassed 7.6 million views on YouTube. “I’ve had some incredible experiences in life. I can never forget the feeling of performing City Slums for the first time at NH-7. It was the first time I stepped on stage in India and experiencing the love of the people was an incredible feeling,” she adds.
What makes her songs stand out is the ways she blends genres. Mixing the music traditions of two different countries also helps in bridging the gap between them. She says, “I believe I am the bridge. I want to open the door for cultural exchange and want to see an Indian person impacting pop culture worldwide.” She is very passionate about music and was nominated for a Grammy award in 2015.
Though she grew up in America, the Indian in her was always alive and kicking thanks to her parents. She emphasises, “I credit my parents for raising me with a deep respect and love for my culture. They always made me proud to be Indian and made sure I knew my roots.” Unlike some NRIs who force their children to be doctors and engineers, Raja Kumari’s parents were supportive of her and satisfied with whatever made her happy. Her academic choice was pioneering too. She studied ancient religious studies and took comparative religious studies in college. She has a degree in ancient Indian history and studied Sanskrit besides three classical dance styles. “I did my arangetrams in different styles. I’ve dedicated my life to study Indian culture,” she adds.
Despite supportive parents, she did face some obstacles at at other fronts. Surmounting them, she says, “It is always difficult to blaze your own trail. Being a woman in a male-dominated arena is a challenge but I welcome it.”
I Did It has already won millions of hearts and has gained over 300K YouTube views and because of its uniqueness the figures will continue to rise. Talking about her future plans, she says, “I don’t limit myself. I want to lend my voice to whatever makes to my brand. Right now, I’m in Los Angeles working on my new EP. I love Bollywood and would love to get more involved.”
Courtesy: The Pioneer
After a long break, TV Star Mona Singh is again ready for her new upcoming series ‘Yeh Meri Family’. The web series is set in 90s and revolves around a typical Indian family. Mona plays a simple housewife, a mother of three children, who’s a strict disciplinaire. She is paired opposite veteran actor-filmmaker Akarsh Khurana.
As the scorching heat reigns over Delhi, one misses the good-old days of the early 90s when families, despite the goodies of liberalisation, still sat together. For something as simple as savouring mangoes. For kids, summer was about outdoor games and for mothers a troublesome time as they ran around the house. To relive nostalgia from three decades ago, and symbolically hoping to relearn a few lessons, The Viral Fever has announced a new web-series on YouTube, Yeh Meri Family, starring Mona Singh and Akarsh Khurana.
Singh, best known for her lead role in Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahi, plays the mother. “On TV, a mother is still portrayed as very sweet and sugar-coated, who is forever indulgent. But the difference here is that I am playing a believable, real-life one. Back in the 90s, we used to get shouted, scolded and not treated with kid gloves. Our parents were disciplinarian but not over-indulgent. And they were just as caring and loving. They made us understand the worth of things and work towards it. Nowadays, parents just dump everything in excess, be it affection or gifts, like reward points. For this role, I referenced my mother and I tried to get an essence of that in my acting,” she says.
The web series, set in the summer of 1998, “is taking the audience back to the pre-cellphone age, when Govinda songs were a rage and family time was all about eating mangoes together, even going out to a dhaba for a good meal,” she tells us, hoping she can take the viewer on a trip down memory lane. In the process, she hopes people will appreciate the emotional heft of family relationships that are increasingly under strain these days.
The actress has come a long way since her first role in the Indian adaptation of Ugly Betty and has gone on to play mature characters in movies like 3 Idiots, Kya Huaa Tera Vaada and won the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhla Ja.
She doesn’t mind playing mother, since that is one role that can be played over and over again with discernible layers of complexity, conflict and empathy.“Three of my co-actors were kids. On the sets, I would become one of them and play all sorts of silly games like hide and seek. On the other hand, Akarsh, who is a very funny man, used to keep cracking jokes all the time. We shot for almost 40 days for seven episodes and it never felt like we were working. It was always party-time. That’s when I realised the importance of connecting with family, no matter what the time or context,” she says.
Working with TVF for the first time, the 36-year-old says she was inspired by all “very creative people, who write inspiring stories, which get brilliantly translated by the director. I believe that these are the type of stories that need to be told and unfortunately lack takers on TV.”
Writer: Shambhavi Suri
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas have consistently been spotted together, but hadn’t talked publicly about their relationship. It looks like actress Priyanka Chopra has finally found the love of her life in Nick Jonas. The actress posted a photo on social media of her brother Siddharth and Nick in Goa with the caption, “My favourite men”.The pair has consistently been spotted together, but hadn’t talked about their alleged relationship. This is the first time that Priyanka has shared Nick’s photo while he had already made it official when he posted a small video of the Quantico star. The video was posted online with the caption ‘Her’ followed by a heart-eye emoji.
These days a lot of singers are sounding like Arijit Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan or someone else but not something original. As a music composer, if I can work with some of the icons, why should I work with with these kids who do not have their own identity?
— Salim Merchant
Southern star Aditi Seiya, who will be seen playing Priya Dutt in Sanju, said, “Who wouldn’t want to make their Bollywood debut with Rajkumar Hirani? Even if it were a blink-and-miss role, I would have taken it.” Aditi further stated how getting into the skin of the character was a task, especially since she has never met Priya. “Ranbir is a one-take guy who enhances every scene. I have become his fan.”
Bryan opens up about Princess Di
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter bryan adams, who once wrote a song about Princess Diana, said they were very good friends unlike the reports that stated that they were once “romantically involved”. The Canadian singer was asked on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen about their relationship. Her butler had said that he used to sneak Adams into Kensington Palace. “How would you characterise your relationship with Princess Diana?,” Cohen asked.
“Great friends, she didn’t sneak me in, I would just roll up,” Adams said.
When asked if they were friends with benefits, he said, “Just good friends.”
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Cheese making is still a relatively regional phenomenon, and are limited by climate, geography, and equipment. It is not just a faint of heart, it also requires both passion and patience equally. The reporter Asmita Sarkar finds out how one of the top innovators in the U.K. who is mastering artisan cheese making and going forward.
A soft, gooey centre emerged when we used a butter knife to cut through the slightly hard rind of the Brie cheese. The almost-smoky taste stuck to our mouth when eaten alone but paired with a red wine to mask the strong flavour, it quickly became apparent that this was a match made in heaven. The lingering aftertaste was strangely satisfying. You didn’t feel like mindlessly spooning out spoonfuls over casual conversations. And this was not shop-shelf, processed or imported. It was, in fact, made in small storage units for as little a time of maturing as three years.
India is still some way off till artisanal cheese-making becomes a mainstream occupation but in the United Kingdom and Europe, where the trend has picked up already, crafted cheese is innovating the menu.
For the independent cheesemakers, the size of their unit is the deciding factor behind the age of the cheese, since storing milk on the shelf for years requires space that may not be available in urban spaces. So, cheese-makers are focussing on younger and smaller cheeses that are easier to store and sell faster.
According to Himanshu Sharma, a cheese-maker whose unit is in Rajasthan and who claims to have India’s first cheese cave, the pursuit will become a trend in India soon. Right now there are a few experimental makers in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, the Himalayan states and Rajasthan.
“In Britain and Europe, there is a tradition of making harder, older cheeses. We decided to look at a range of younger, smaller cheeses because of the size of the property we have in Tottenham, London,” said Philip and Keith, the co-founders of Wildes Cheese, who are bringing their varietal to India. They don’t consider themselves experts in cheese but believe that their passion is what drove them forward in this profession. Even as artisans, they hope to make cheese that most ordinary bite people would like.
“We went to a food market to give people samples of our blue cheese and most people told us that they don’t like it. The reason you get blue cheese is because of the strain of penicillin. To make it blue, you have to pierce holes through the cheese. The air goes inside and reacts with the chemicals to make it strong and blue. So, we innovated. We made the Baby Blue by putting the mould inside without any holes,” they said.
They started their cheesemaking business in 2012 in urban London and sourced their milk locally. The rapid turnover means their products will soon be available at the Hyatt Regency as well, which is planning India’s first in-house cheese-making unit.
Generally, the traditional blue cheese is shunned for its pungent nature but the innovated Baby Blue, aged for three years that they brought from London, is anything but that. Soft inside with a slightly hard rind, it goes well with a red wine, which was Chef Ivan Chieregatti’s recommendation for us. He also used the blue cheese in a praline with white chocolate. To call it interesting is only the beginning. It was an entirely new experience of eating chocolate for us since unlike our expectation of a sweet centre it had a faint saltiness and a creamy, milky texture.
The Baby Blue can be consumed within seven days. The flavour, however, would change week to week if one keeps it longer than seven days, the artisans said.
One of the other cheeses they brought, the Lordship, spiced with garlic and herbs, was meant for consumption the same day. It is a fresh cow’s milk cheese made with vegetarian rennet, which is an ethical process for making cheese, according to the co-founders.
With smaller cheese-makers catching up on their secrets, it will be possible for many Indians to cater to customers’ tastes and choices. For example, we are already experimenting with non-processed vegan cheeses.
While coming up with ideas for their innovations, cheesemakers borrow from traditions and improve upon it for the palate of the new age turophile.
“You may know about Brie or Camembert. You change slight things and make your own version. When you make cheese it’s a simple process.
You heat milk up to a certain temperature, put the culture in, which comprises bacteria and enzymes, and depending on the temperature you take that to, you get a reaction from the bacteria that gives a flavour and texture. It’s about experimentation,” said Keith, 57.
The cheesemakers shied away from claiming any one of cheeses on display as their favourite or recommending any wine with it, but the tradition of pairing wine and cheese has been a long established because of mouthfeel.
“It is important to pair wines that are mild if the focus is to be on the cheese. There are studies about wines and food pairing but on a certain level it is a very personal choice. Many people say that red wine doesn’t go with fish but if you have flavour in it red wine would be a good combination. For me, the best form is to have bread and cheese,” said Chieregatti, executive chef at Hyatt Regency, and an Italian.
Writer: Asmita Sarkar
Courtesy: The Pioneer
For IIFA 2018, all the top actors of cinema came together to award each other’s works and celebrate on 24 June in Bangkok. The event did justice to our cinema legends.
Bollywood took over Bangkok’s Siam Niramit theatre and transformed it with its tinseltown magic for the annual International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards on Sunday.
The 2,000-seater theatre saw thousands of fanatics coming to the event to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. A string of A-listers like Ranbir Kapoor, Varun, Arjun, Kriti Sanon, Bobby Deol, who’s making a comeback, and Shraddha set the stage on fire with their power-packed and electrifying performances. Varun danced on numbers like Sau Tarah Ke, Tama Tama, and High Rated Gabru. Bobby danced with Romanian TV presenter and singer Iulia Vantur on numbers like Gupt Gupt, Soldier soldier, Tera Rang Balle Balle and tracks from his latest release Race 3. Kriti, Arjun and Shraddha also danced to tracks from their films respectively.
The award function honoured late actors Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi. Late Sridevi’s producer-husband Boney Kapoor took the award for her performance in Mom as best actress. Receiving the award from actress Kriti Sanon, a teary-eyed Kapoor said, “I dedicate this award to the entire team of Mom. I have mixed emotions today. I miss her every minute and second of my life. I still feel she is around here. I want you all to support Janhvi like you supported her mother.”
Khanna’s award was accepted by veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy. Rishi Kapoor accepted Shashi Kapoor’s award.
Actor Irrfan Khan was named the best actor for his remarkable work in Hindi Medium .
The story of an ambitious and enterprising housewife, Tumhari Sulu, bagged the best picture honour while Saket Chaudhary took back the best director award.
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui has dedicated his best supporting actor honour to his Mom co-star Sridevi. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with the first female superstar Sridevi and I dedicate my award as a tribute to her,” Nawazuddin tweeted on Monday, a day after the IIFA Awards ceremony here.
Veteran actor Anupam Kher was honoured with the “outstanding achievement” award. And true to his grain, he dedicated the award to strugglers who try and find their feet without a godfather. “Thank you IIFA for honouring me with the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Cinema’ award. I really feel honoured and energised. Thank you Bangkok for your love, warmth and hospitality. I dedicate this award to all the struggling actors who have to make it without godfathers,” he tweeted the morning after. He has featured in over 500 movies in his career, which has seen him work across theatre, television and film media. “It is a great feeling when your own peers celebrate your achievements and as I have been saying, this is just the interval point of what I am doing and my second half of journey starts now. It started with my 500th film. I told myself this is the interval point with The Big Sick. After that I have done 15 films in the last year, both international and national,” he added.
Composer Amaal Mallik, who bagged the best music director award for his work in the film Badrinath Ki Dulhania, said. “The feeling of winning an award is always special as it boosts one’s drive to strive harder and better one’s craft. I’m so honoured to have won my first ever IIFA award for the two songs (Roke na ruke naina and Aashiq surrender hua) which happen to be so dear to me in such different ways.” The award couldn’t have come at a better time for him as his parents also celebrated their anniversary on the same day. “They’ve probably been the reason why I am holding this award in my hand. Their teachings about and beyond the world of music happen to be the decisive factor behind all the good things that have happened to me in my life,” he said. “It was my dad’s dream that I do a Dharma film some day. When an artist’s intention is to only go out there and make an honest song, from his heart, seeing it pay off, it is possibly the most humbling feeling ever.”
Aashiq was a joyride for Amaal. “Having the chance to lend my vocals and see it getting the kind of response it got was nothing but overwhelming to me. This award only means that I’ll backpack a bigger set of responsibilities to entertain you in several ways, always,”he said.
Dancing to the tunes of Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya to Salam-E-Ishq Meri Jaan, veteran actress Rekha left everyone smitten here with her grand finale performance. Known for her elegance and twinkle toes, Rekha, 63, looked stunning in a powder pink anarkali bedazzled with silver zari work as she performed live on stage after two decades. She brought alive the 1981 film Umrao Jaan as she swayed effortlessly on numbers like Dil Cheez Kya Hai and In Aankhon Ki Masti. She also danced on numbers from the 1960 film Mughal-E-Azam like Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya and Thare Rahiyo from Pakeezah.
After the original Khoobsoorat actress finished with her 20-minute performance, the audience and celebrities were left asking for more and gave her a standing ovation. Actors like Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Kartik Aaryan went on stage to do an encore of Salaam-E-Ishq with her. “After sharing the stage with these great actors today, I have become a better actor and a better performer after the stardust has rubbed on me,” she said.
The 19th edition of IIFA was hosted by Riteish Deshmukh and Karan Johar.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has completed 26 years in Bollywood, and the superstar hopes he has touched the hearts and lives of people during his journey in showbiz. After working for TV, he entered Bollywood with Deewana, which released on June 25 in 1992.
SRK tweeted on Monday: “Expressing love, happiness, sadness, dancing, falling and flying. Hope I have touched small bits of your hearts and hope I can do so for the whole lifetime,” he added. Shah Rukh has been appreciated for films like Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai and Swades.
“It is sick and shameful, the kind of vicious trolling Sushma Swaraj ji is being subjected to because she and her ministry did their job conscientiously and as per the law of our land. Sad that the anti-minority hate by bhakts in our public discourse now doesn’t spare their own leaders. ”
Singer-composer VISHAL DADLANI says that the only thing that makes him happy is to do things that he has not done before. He will soon be seen in the show Great Escape 3. For this, he embarked on an expedition to the less-explored regions of Himachal Pradesh along with actress-host Sarah Jane Dias. Dadlani said that whatever activities he did for the show will remain with him forever.
Trump tells Fallon to be a man
US President DONALD TRUMP slammed TV show host Jimmy Fallon over recent comments in a podcast episode wherein Fallon became choked up talking about the grief he felt after tussling Trump’s hair on his show.
Trump said, “Jimmy Fallon is now whimpering to all that he did the famous ‘hair show’ with me (where he seriously messed up my hair), and that he would have now done it differently because it is said to have ‘humanised’ me — he is taking the heat. He called and said ‘monster ratings.’ Be a man Jimmy!”
Fallon responded on Sunday: “In honour of the President’s tweet, I’ll be making a donation to a foundation for refugees in his name.”
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Krishna Gopeshvara: The Truth of Vrishnis
Author : Sanjay Dixit
Publisher : Bloomsbury, Rs 399
This is a more-human-than-divine account of the life of the Hindu mythological figure, Krishna, reminding one that it’s ideology and not individuals that cause harm, writes ABHINAV AGARWAL
Krishna Gopeshvara is a book that takes you back in time and also makes you think about its parallels with medieval and modern history, about divinity and humanity, and individuals versus ideologies. Are there lessons to be learnt?
As evil scales new heights of destruction upon putting on the cloak of ideology, it acquires a degree of pervasiveness and permanence when it adopts the patina of unquestionable dogma. Communism was an inchoate idea in one man’s head. When it became an ideology, it became a Red Holocaust, killing over one hundred million across the world in the twentieth century. When ideology and fanaticism infected religion, they gave birth to absolutism and monotheism, accompanied by violent expansionism across the world. Such is the subterranean message that runs through this book. The evil in one man, if nurtured by the pervert philosophy of the mad genius, can wreak havoc on society.
As the first book in a planned trilogy, Krishna Gopeshvara begins with Kamsa’s death. His two wives are whisked away to Magadha, where their father, Jarasandha, rules. Before a furious Jarasandha can retaliate against the upstart who has widowed his daughters, his guru urges him do a purvapaksha of his enemy, and to better understand the person he is going to fight with. Whether he should march against Krishna or not is a decision his guru, Chandakaushika, leaves to Jarasandha.
As Jarasandha’s guru starts his multi-day discourse, the reader is returned to Mathura, and back in time. We get to see the rise of Kamsa, aided by an evil savant who is bent upon remaking society in the image of his ideology — one book, one God, one King, one salute — and where debate and dissent are unnecessary irritants, to be dispensed with with the sword. We see the imprisonment of Devaki and Vasudeva, Krishna’s birth, the gradual takeover of Mathura by the followers of the kutildharmi and the fallout of their rakshasa karma, under the banner of the viloma swastika. Even as all this happens in Mathura, an infant Krishna grows into a toddler and then a child, escaping attempts on his life, finding kinship with the residents in Vrindavan, learning and growing all the time. An increasingly agitated Kamsa is driven to greater depths of despondency, frustration, and evil, goaded by the Kutil Muni, his kutil dharma, and twisted ideology. This part of the book culminates with the death of Kamsa at the hands of Krishna and the reinstatement of Ugrasena as the ruler of Mathura. The book then returns the reader to Magadha and the first of Jarasandha’s many attacks on Mathura.
As in works of fiction that derive from historical or mythological texts, there are elements of imagination, re-imagination, reinterpretation, contemporization, and more, that an author brings to his retelling. The same is the case here with Krishna Gopeshvara. If Kamsa was the evil doer, what drove him to such depths of depravity as to commit infanticide, and that too against his own sister’s progeny? Kamsa, as an individual, was ambitious. When mated with a twisted ideology and an evil adherent of the ideology, Kamsa’s proved to be a pliable mind, giving rise to unmitigated evil on a societal scale.
As an attempt to force us to look at Krishna differently, the author asks us whether Krishna was divine or human. Seen as an avatar, it serves one purpose, of reinforcing our belief in a divine presence that will surely intercede when evil crosses all limits of tolerance. If, on the other hand, Krishna is human, like us, it serves to make us aspire to that same level of yogic consciousness, since humans may not be able to become gods, but can surely aspire to become better humans. If a Krishna in Kaliyuga is not forthcoming, can we attempt to inculcate Krishna, goodness in each of us? Often enough, through history, people have made the mistake of fighting an individual, while ignoring the ideology. The concept of purvapaksha, the ancient Indian tradition of fully understanding an opponent’s point of view before countering it, is relevant here. If an ideology is not countered, fighting individuals is futile. Krishna’s story, as re-imagined in the book, looks at his life and struggles through the lens of humanity, not divinity.
As you read the book, and as Krishna’s life flows through its pages, do also attempt to view the tale through a modern lens. The book itself is fast-paced and keeps you engaged throughout. You may find yourself agreeing with some parts, and questioning some others. Allow those thoughts and encourage those questions. The journey to find answers will in itself be a rewarding journey.
Thalaiva’s political ideology seems to be far removed from that of the character he portrays in his recent film, Kaala. Can he fill the void left by the death of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa, asks Kumar Chellappan
Yatha raja tatha praja (As is the king, so are the subjects) is an ancient Indian saying, which quite substantiates the current situation in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa, the supreme leader of the ruling AIADMK, breathed her last almost two years ago, and since then, the State has been in a state of turmoil and uncertainty. Despite the presence of major political parties, there is undeniably a leadership vacuum in the State. Amid the bigwigs, such as the AIADMK and DMK, the emergence of filmstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan in the political arena can be construed by some as a ray of hope.
The assessment by Tamil Nadu’s political pundits is that the 35 per cent vote held by the united AIADMK would get split and this will help the DMK recapture power. But will this materialise? That is where Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan become relevant in the political discourse. Rajinikanth had announced his political ambitions on the last day of 2017 when he told his fans that he would soon launch a political outfit. It has been more than six months, but the actor has not revealed the name of his party. But his rival Kamal Haasan announced the name of his party (Makkal Neethi Maiyam, Tamil for People’s Justice Party) and is touring the State, soliciting public support.
Who will win this race and who will make it to Fort Saint George (Tamil Nadu’s Secretariat in Chennai) is the issue being hotly debated now. Rajinikanth would soon launch his outfit and party programmes, says Tamilaruvi Manian, a former Congress leader-turned-activist, who is a close confidante of the actor.
Who is the leader Tamil Nadu is waiting for? Could Rajinikanth fill the vacuum created by the departure of Jayalalithaa, who was known as a charismatic leader despite the corruption charges against her? It is at this juncture that Kaala was released recently — the first after Rajinikanth announced his political entry last year. Rajinikanth’s fans expected him to make some political statements through this movie, but the star has not lived up to their expectations. He was parroting the script penned by
Pa Ranjith, the director. What Rajinikanth tells in the movie is totally against what he says in real life. He had visited Thoothukudi, where 14 people were killed in police firing during the anti-Sterlite Copper agitation in the last week of May 2018. Rajinikanth said that the agitation was hijacked by anti-social elements, who even assaulted the police in uniform, which resulted in firing and subsequent deaths. A popular English daily in Tamil Nadu supporting the CPI(M) had detailed the activities of the anti-social gang in Thoothukudi through the words of their own reporter.
While speaking to reporters on his return to Chennai, Rajinikanth reiterated his stance that the police had resorted to firing to quell the riots by anti-social elements. He further stated that the Jallikattu agitation in 2017 was masterminded by anti-national and anti-social elements. The Dravidian-dominated Tamil media came down heavily on the superstar and he was forced to tender an apology.
When HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Rajinikanth requested him to release the Cauvery waters due to Tamil Nadu. This resulted in Kannadigas in Karnataka demanding a ban on the release of Kaala in that State. The wavering shown by Rajinikanth under pressure does not augur well for his political innings. Compared to Kamal Haasan, who is a better actor, Rajinikanth, an action hero, has created a lot of goodwill among his fans. People like his frankness and the downtrodden section consider him as one among them because of his down-to-earth image. He is an antithesis to the conventional film hero and has maintained a reasonably good image.
The Kannada-born Tamil superstar was seen as the representative of the downtrodden classes in Tamil Nadu till he made it known that politics was his next battlefield. People for whom the actor was a demi-God started questioning his locus standi in Tamil Nadu politics. For the first time since he entered filmdom some four decades ago, his domicile status and his status as a Tamilian were questioned by the Tamil chauvinist political parties as well as the pro-Leftist political commentators. “What is his opinion about reservation for the Dalits? What is his view and opinion about Cauvery water dispute,” asked Ramu Manivannan, a political commentator.
The Left, Tamil chauvinists, and the caste-based parties saw red in the news that Rajinikanth is being advised and counselled by S Gurumurthy, a widely respected chartered accountant-turned-columnist and writer. If the comments in the social media groups in Tamil Nadu are any indication, the Dravidians, Left, the Church, and the Islamic extremists are totally against Gurumurthy. For the Periyarists (who are the followers of EV Ramasamy Naicker, founder of the Dravida Kazhakam), Gurumurthy is a persona non grata in Tamil Nadu. This is mainly due to his Brahmin origin. All political parties in Tamil Nadu are against Brahmins for fear of losing the vote of the Backward and Most Backward Communities. The Brahmins, which constitute hardly two per cent of the Tamil Nadu population, are considered Aryans, while the BCs, MBCs are the Dravidians. Though scientific research has proved that the Aryan-Dravidian theory itself is bunkum, Tamil Nadu politicians have not accepted it, and the hate campaign continues unabated.
Ramasamy Naicker himself was a casteist for whom the interests of the backward communities were of paramount interest. “This is proved by the fact that the attacks on Dalits by the intermediate castes continue unabated in spite of the five decades of Dravidian rule. Will the DMK and AIADMK dare to field a Dalit from a general assembly or parliament constituency in the State? For the Dravidian parties, the Dalits are mere vote banks,” said L Murugan, member, National Commission for Scheduled Caste.
Gurumurthy is of the view that the announcement by Rajinikanth that he would launch his political outfit is going to be the tectonic shift Tamil Nadu is waiting for. “In 1967, the DMK defeated the Congress and emerged as the ruling party. This marked the Dravidianisation of Tamil Nadu politics. The dismissal of MGR from the DMK and the launching of the AIADMK was yet another shift in the State’s politics. The AIADMK won because of the anti-DMK votes. Now that the AIADMK itself is getting disintegrated, Rajinikanth could walk away with all the anti-DMK and anti-AIADMK votes,” said Gurumurthy.
Haasan — who describes himself as Ulaga Nayagan (global hero) — is the number one showman in the Tamil film industry. What ails his political mission is his inability to convey to the people his ambitions and dreams. He is not communicative, though his dialogue delivery in films stands out. There is no clarity in his thought or words. The only exemplary fact about his political mission is his secular credentials and his passion for liberalised life. Haasan has given an assurance that he would not tie up with the BJP under any circumstances.
His personal life may come as a handicap because of his frequent hunger for greener pastures in real life. The Ulaga Nayagan, who is on the wrong side of 60s, has had many real life escapades — Vani Ganapathy, Sarika, Gowthamy, the list is lengthy. Recently, Gowthamy publicly complained that she had not been paid a single penny for the work she did for Haasan as an actress and a costume designer. The circumstances under which Sarika left the Chennai residence of Haasan is still shrouded in mystery. But these incidents need not come in the way of his political journey. Tamil Nadu’s people had voted for Karunanidhi despite his romantic interludes with many beauties.
This is where Rajinikanth could steal a march on Haasan. For the first time in Tamil Nadu, an aspiring politician has asked his fans and followers to love their families, parents, wives, and children. “Take care of your family members. Ensure that your parents, wives, and children are well looked after. That’s is your top priority. Politics should come only after this,” Rajinikanth told his followers on December 31, 2017.
Manian says this has been noted by women. “Women outnumber men in Tamil Nadu. They play a significant role in decision making. That’s why I am confident of Rajinikanth’s success,” said Manian. But N Kalyanasundaram, veteran scribe who worked with both Kamaraj and GK Moopanar, points out that times have changed in Tamil Nadu and both Rajinikanth and Haasan are doomed to end up as failures. “No political parties except the BJP has announced the possibility of aligning with Rajinikanth. All fringe elements and caste parties are already aligned with the DMK. Haasan will end up playing second fiddle to the DMK. I hope Rajinikanth may end up as a non-starter,” he said.
He has reasons to believe so. Kaala could not meet the expectations of Thalaiva’s fans. Moreover, Haasan’s Vishwaroopam 2 is all set to hit the screens in August and could pose a threat to Kaala’s future. It is widely believed that Haasan would go to any extent to appease the Muslim community through this film because he had courted controversy when the first part was released in 2013.
There is a leadership crisis in Tamil Nadu, though the Opposition DMK vehemently denies this in public. If they agree to this fact, it is like stating that MK Stalin, the DMK working president and the third son of party president M Karunanidhi by his second wife Dayalu Ammal, is not leadership material. Karunanidhi, the 95-year-old founder-leader of the DMK continues to be the party president, a role which he assumed in 1969 immediately after the demise of CN Annadurai, the then party chief and CM. Since then, Karunanidhi converted the DMK into a family enterprise. The next year marks the 50th anniversary of Karunanidhi’s presidency. Though he is confined to a wheelchair and not in a position to utter a single world, the atheist DMK cadre continues to describe him as the God of all Tamil speaking people across the world and are waiting for the beginning of the celebrations of his golden jubilee as party chief.
Karunanidhi (a school dropout, who travelled ticketless in a train from his hometown of Thiruvarur to Chennai with cinema dreams in his eyes) expects to equal/surpass the world record held by Fidel Castro as the longest serving head of a political party. Castro, who became the general secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in 1961, continued in that position till 2011 before relinquishing the charge at the age of 85. The DMK cadre claims Karunanidhi is going strong even at the age of 95! The fact is that Dr Kalaignar (as he prefers all to address him) has eliminated all his potential rivals in the party since the day he assumed charge. Today in the DMK, there is no one to challenge the might of the K-clan. Those who fell by the wayside include MG Ramachandran, Vaiko, and Nedunchezhiyan.
MG Ramachandran, the poster boy of the DMK, was ousted from the party by Karunanidhi when he felt that the Malayalathan (one who hails from the land of Malayalam) would be a potential threat to his position. MGR launched the AIADMK in 1972, captured power in 1977, and ruled the State till his death in 1987. So long as MGR was around, Karunanidhi was in political wilderness. It was only after the death of MGR and because of the internal strife in the AIADMK that Karunanidhi could make a brief return to power in 1989. He ruled the State for two years before the then government at the Centre headed by S Chandrasekhar dismissed the government citing breakdown in law and order and also his suspected connections with the LTTE. Karunanidhi had to wait five more years to come back to power while Jayalalithaa, the chosen heir of MGR, ruled the State. Since then till 2011 it was Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi who were ruling the State alternately. The rhythm was broken by Jayalalithaa in 2016, who returned to power in the Assembly Elections, demolishing the dreams of Karunanidhi to become the CM for the sixth time. But the joy in the AIADMK camp was shortlived as Amma left to meet MGR within months of her re-election.
The AIADMK, which had a comfortable margin, has started disintegrating and at the time of writing this article, there were three factions of the party fighting for control and Amma’s legacy. There is the official AIADMK headed by CM Edappadi Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam; the AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhakam) led by Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran; and a third outfit, Anna Dravidar Kazhakam, launched by VK Dhivakaran, the Mannargudi-based brother of Sasikala.
The less said the better about other political parties in Tamil Nadu. The Indian National Congress, which ruled the State till 1967 before it was elbowed out by the DMK, is yet to recover from that defeat and continues to piggyback onto the DMK. “There are more leaders than cadre in the Tamil Nadu Congress; it is the bane of the party and there is no future for the party in the State,” sums up Kalyanasundaram.
The Left joins hands with either the DMK or AIADMK depending on the winning possibility of the Dravidian majors. The CPI-M and the CPI, which earlier aligned with Jayalalithaa, have switched their loyalties to the DMK camp following the demise of Amma. The rest are all caste-based fringe elements.
Stalin, the DMK’s working president, has proved that he is incapable of leading a major political outfit and getting the confidence of the people. His stand-off with his elder brother, MK Alagiri, is his major handicap. Till one of the siblings yields space to the other, the DMK is in for mutually assured destruction.
People of Tamil Nadu need a change, a change from the Dravidian and Congress style of politics. The people aspire for a change due to the recent developments in the State. To begin with, January 2017 saw the Marina Beach under siege by those demanding the Tamil Nadu Government enact a law to surmount the Supreme Court ban on Jallikattu. More than 50 people have been gored to death since Jallikattu was resumed in 2017. Then there were agitations demanding the closure of the Hydro Carbon Extraction Project proposed by the ONGC at Neduvasal, and the protest against the Methane Gas Extraction Project at Mannargudi. All these projects have been put on hold because an axis of the Left-Maoists-Church-Islamist-Tamil chauvinists is resisting the moves of the Centre to bring industrialisation to Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, the methane and the hydro carbon projects were sanctioned by the DMK Government led by Karunanidhi, which ruled the State from 2006 to 2011.
There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when educated Malayalis made a beeline to Chennai and Tiruchirappalli for livelihood. By 1990s, this phenomenon was ostensibly reversed. Hundreds of people from Tamil Nadu started migrating to Kerala in search of menial jobs for basic survival. That’s the situation in Tamil Nadu, which also saw a serving CM sentenced to imprisonment with a fine of Rs 100 crore on charges of corruption.
While Rajinikanth and Haasan have made their political plans known, two prominent stars are still struggling to stay relevant in politics. Vijayakanth (the black MGR) and Sarathkumar had given high hopes when they launched their political parties. Vijayakanth, who was projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the Third Front, lost his deposit in the 2016 Assembly Elections. Not only that, the Third Front — a motley alliance of Vaiko’s MDMK, Thirumavalavan’s VCK, the Left, and the TMC revived by GK Vasan — was wiped out in the elections having failed to win at least one seat. Vaiko jumped fence and is working actively to make Stalin the Chief Minister.
Tamil Nadu voters are blessed with an array of chief ministerial candidates to choose from. Palaniswami, Dhinakaran, Stalin, Anbumani Ramadoss, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, and Vijayakanth. It is a buyer’s market and we have to wait for some more time to zero in on the winner.
Writer: Kumar Chellappan
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), in association with US-based water brand smartwater, has announced “The Platform”, a programme conceptualised to identify and mentor young and innovative designers who are willing to push the boundaries of fashion and create a new norm.
The show aims to lend impetus to an alternative genre of fashion — unconventional, innovative and fearless, said a statement.
The winning designers will be mentored by India’s prominent fashion icons and get the opportunity to showcase their creativity at the forthcoming edition of the fashion gala, which will begin from August 22.
“The Platform aims to give an opportunity to a new generation of designers who are willing to disrupt the conventional norms of fashion through their authentic and thought provoking story-based collections. We hope for this programme to inspire design, not bound by the constraints of stereotypes giving rise to a new movement in the field of Indian fashion. I am personally very excited about this programme and looking forward to discover some great talent through this initiative,” said Anoop Manohar, general manager, marketing, Coca-Cola India.
Based on smartwater’s core theme of ‘Inspired by the clouds’, the winning collection or collections will reflect the designers’ own interpretation of the theme in the form of experimentation with texture, fabric, shapes or colors that are inspired by clouds.
Jaspreet Chandok, vice president and fashion head, IMG Reliance, said, “LFW is committed to bringing new designer talent to the fore. Having successfully launched many of the most exciting labels, we want to now nurture and help support them with this exciting new programme.”
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The reporter Muskan Kathuria mentioned that don’t be surprised if you see the trend of bell bottoms, high waist jeans, neon colors, or hoop earrings again.
BELL BOTTOMS: Remember Neetu Singh and Shabana Azmi flaunting flared pants in the movie Parvarish or Cher in her iconic purple outfit? These trousers with a marked flare below the knee are making a strong comeback and you need to stock your wardrobe already. These pants are comfortable, breezy and add just the right amount of drama to your outfit. You can style them in a number of ways. From teaming them up with a skinny turtleneck to tucking a plain white shirt in, bell bottoms are a quick way to instantly key into the retro trend.
HIGH WAISTED JEANS: This denim is one designed to sit higher above the navel of the person wearing it. So, it accentuates your beautifully carved midriff. You can wear it with a crop top without exposing too much skin or you can tuck in your favourite plaid shirt in it to create a sophisticated look. Not to forget, the relief of not having to pull your trousers up all the time is incomparable.
NEON COLOURS: The Instagram famous outfit of Kylie Jenner in neon purple thigh-high boots at a campaign launch gained a lot of attention. So did her neon pink hair at Coachella, which established the return of neon colours. You could easily stand out in a crowd if you put the outfit together in a clever way. Remember to not overdo the neon; you don’t want to look like a highlighter.
TINY SUNGLASSES: These sunglasses are undoubtedly 2018’s hottest trend which can be found everywhere. From Gucci, Prada, Balenciaga or affordable brands like Zara, Forever 21 etc, everyone wants in on this trend. It all started when Rihanna flaunted her Andy Wolf frames at the Cannes Film Festival. These barely-there pair of tiny glasses is the current favourite of the Kardashian-Jenner clan and the Hadid sisters seem to have a new pair every time. These accessories will hardly protect you from the sun but they do flatter the shape of your face and give you room to stare into someone’s soul.
SEQUINS: Sequins are the perfect way to glam up your outfit. Even a sequinned accessory can take you from desk to dinner without putting in too much effort. You’re wrong if you think sequins can only be embellished in dresses and gowns. Designers and brands have it ready in rompers, T-shirts, skirts and even phone cases. You can glam up your plain chiffon saree with a sequinned blouse. Sequins might just replace florals this season so make sure to incorporate them into your wardrobe.
HOOP EARRINGS: From Victoria Beckham to Taylor Swift, nobody is immune to the hoop. You can see them everywhere, in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of colours. You were wrong if you thought this trend disappeared long back, because hoop earrings are back and on a larger scale. Circle, star, square, triangle, studded, bedazzled, you name the shape and brands or even flea markets will have them for you. Hoops are easy to accessorise. You can dress them up by wearing them over a party outfit or dress them down by teaming it with your go-to denim jacket.
COORD SETS: Co-ordinate sets, previously known as matching sets, were a trend in the 70s. Co-ords are a set of matching tops and bottoms. Now, brands are experimenting with the look by teaming up a crop top with a pencil skirt or a blouse with straight pants. This trend, again, is most loved by the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, who love how co-ords accentuate their figure. These sets are extremely easy to style and can be your best escape for the morning “what-to-wear” fuss. Another positive sight of this trend is that you can also pair the top and bottom separately with another bottom and top.
SEE-THROUGH HANDBAGS: Clear handbags can be a tricky accessory to carry, because contrary to the primary function of a handbag, which is to keep stuff hidden, these bags display it to passers-by. But it doesn’t mean that these bags are a downer. These will force you to organise yourself better and make you think twice before you throw things into it. See-through handbags don’t just come in a colourless form; you can get experimental and sport neon colours like red and green as well.
PATCHES: This trend was famous in the 1990s to express one’s individuality and is cool again. Patches are a quirky addition to your clothing and unlike the 90s, they aren’t just sewn over denim jackets. You can iron them on your T-shirts, sew them on your ripped denims or even pin them on your backpacks.
Bandwidth: For every child of the 1980s and 1990s, the Metallica or ACDC T-shirts were part of their signature looks. And now band T-shirts are back and boy, are we happy. This time, they’re not the regular basic black T-shirts with band names on it, they’ve evolved. You can get ripped crop top rendition of these T-shirts or the ones with a cut out in the front with an in-built choker. This year, the humble band T-shirt came to rising when the Jenner sisters released a series of Tupac Shakur and Ozzy Osbourne T-shirts on Kendall+Kylie website.
OVERSIZED CLOTHING: Who doesn’t love it when fashion fuses with comfort? Get over the skinny jeans and tight blouses because baggy clothing is in. Oversized shirts, belted at the waist, make for a beautiful lunch outfit or you could even let loose in a baggy T-shirt paired with leggings for a more casual look. You have so much room in your clothes that it doesn’t restrict you. One could gulp in an entire pizza and no one would ever know. The best part about this trend is that you don’t have to gift away any item if you’ve ordered a larger size by mistake and celebrities finally have an airport look that we all can copy.
SLIDERS: From luxury brands like Gucci to sporty ones likes Adidas, everyone’s bringing back sliders. They were essentially backless and open-toed rubber flip flops, but now they aren’t only restricted to rubber. You can even find these footwear in fur, cloth, studded, patched, or even bedazzled. This 90s’ trend has been spotted on a lot of celebrities and we cannot get over how comfortable they are. You can slip into a pair of fur slides for a no-fuss look like Jacqueline Fernandez, or go stylish with a pair of studded slides like Fergie.
Writer: Muskan Kathuria
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The head of the Recording Academy, the professional group of musicians that administers the Grammys, said Thursday he would step aside months after an uproar over his remarks on women.
Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow, whose 16-year tenure has been the longest of any chief of the body, said he would not seek an extension after his contract ends in July 2019.
A calm, bespectacled record industry executive who has put a focus on pressing for the music business’s interests in Washington, Portnow was a largely uncontroversial figure until the latest Grammy Awards.
Asked by a reporter after the gala why more women were not winning the music industry’s biggest prize, Portnow said that female musicians should “step up,” while also speaking of the need for more mentorship.
Top female stars including Katy Perry and Pink voiced outrage over his remarks and a group of women executives in the music business called on Portnow to step down as part of the “Time’s Up” movement against gender inequality.
Portnow, in his statement, did not address the incident but said he wanted an orderly transition to choose his successor.
“The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity and success,” he said in a statement.
The spotlight on the gender imbalance came after men dominated the winners at the 60th Grammy Awards, although women — Adele and Taylor Swift — had won the top prize of Album of the Year the two previous years.
Portnow had nonetheless been credited with promoting racial and genre
diversity, in part by switching the Recording Academy to online balloting to ensure better representation.
For the first time, hip-hop dominated the top nominations at the latest Grammys, although funk revivalist Bruno Mars was the night’s big winner. Agencies