The initiator
From Bollywood to business, actor Poonam Dhillon has always put her best foot forward
Jasmine Singh

The first one to introduce the concept of make up vans in Bollywood, the first one to start a personal website almost 12 years back, the one to dabble with the world of television, when it wasn't considered a good prospective for top notch actors, the first Jat Sikh girl to move into Bollywood and today, the first one to launch a city specific website. Actor Poonam Dhillon, indeed, has the knack to be the first one. And you bet she shoulders the responsibility of being 'the first one' pretty well. In city, for the launch for, the 'first' and only social networking site for the residents of Chandigarh and for those who have a Chandigarh connect, Poonam Dhillon found out the interaction drift from networking site to Bigg Boss experience. And for sure, the pretty woman didn't mind it a bit. After all she was 'the first' woman candidate to enjoy an equal fanfare and support from the audiences vis-a-vis the men finalists.

"I didn't go to the Bigg Boss house thinking I was a drama queen nor did I want to give any the grit for masala for the TRP's. I am Poonam Dhillon and this is what I was at Bigg Boss's house, smiles Poonam, more relaxed and of course sans a vegetable or a service spoon in her hand for that's what we saw for 13 weeks (Poonam cooking, peeling vegetables, making tea, stirring veggies). It is a pleasant change to see her now. "I haven't seen the footage of the serial myself. I am out of the house and I want to relax and be at peace before I see all that." She elaborates on 'all that'. "Bigg Boss ran on a kind of format. The contestants couldn't have sat ideal the whole day. So, there was chatting, fighting and mudslinging," shares Poonam. Nevertheless, she was not part of any group at the House nor was she ever a soft target, till the contestants saw that she could be a probable threat. "In real life too, I am not jealous or competitive. I was real, I was myself. However, the last few weeks saw contestants deliberately trying to drag me in fights," adds the actor, who has her hands full with theatre, and other projects.

Now that all those fights, high temperaments, groupism is behind her, Poonam wants to focus on other things like- directing a movie maybe, doing some good roles in movies, and presently concentrating on "I didn't get much support when I ventured into Bollywood and decided to make a career out of it. Eventually, my mother understood me," she says adding that this is her time to pay back to the city. "I left Chandigarh more than 30 years ago, but I still feel very strongly about the place. I take pride in talking about the scenic beauty of the city. Not only this, the city has often been the basis for interaction between people who are also from Chandigharh. This is when we decided to come up with a website dedicated to Chandigarh, especially for anyone whose life has been touched by the City Beautiful," offers Poonam Dhillon, who falls back on prayers to god for strength. How else could she have been 'the first one'!

It's my city, is a social networking site for anyone, anywhere in the world who at some point of time or the other called Chandigargh 'My home. My city.' Actor Poonam Dhillon, entrepreneur and chairman, Dentsu India, Sandeep Goyal, Avaninder Chopra, professor of DAV College Chandigarh, Anil Talwar of Talwar Jewellers, Ram Niwas, UT Home Secretary, launched the site, which is loaded with many user-friendly features, on Saturday. The website lets users contribute information and reviews about latest events in Chandigarh, share their experiences at various hotels, restaurants, cinemas in the city.

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Fighting terror
Mukul Deva's new book offers tips to make our country safe
Ashima Sehajpal

The basic qualification to be recruited as a constable in the Indian Police Force has been brought down from 10th standard to 8th. On the contrary, the terrorists are becoming tech savvy; they are educated and are imparted quality training. The very paradox has made India suffer from numerous terror attacks. So what should be done, how can India become safer, what are the immediate challenges that army, police forces and our government face? The answers to all of these are there in the latest book, Blow Back by Mukul Deva, whose previous books are also on terrorism. The very practical solutions that he has offered, aren't predictions, "Rather are a result of applied common sense," says Mukul, in the city on Saturday to release his book at the Capitol Book Shop. His earlier books that suggested a unique identity card or a more active intelligence agency are again as he says, "Common sense as to what can make our country safe."

Besides these solutions, Mukul with his this book too has continued to expose the realities that public is unaware of, "Not many people know that all terror attacks on India were in accordance with Operation Topac, that was designed way back in 1988 by the General of Pakistan's army." What follow such revelations are nasty phone calls and mails by those, who don't want their political goals to be cut short, "But all this doesn't bother me. For every one nasty call, I got over 100 mails applauding my courage," says Mukul, who has earlier served in the Sikh Light Infantry regiment of the Indian Army. Any such expose` is the outcome of meticulous research that Mukul undertakes, "Even if my book is a work of fiction, I can't afford to tamper with facts. Anything I write that hasn't been earlier brought under the public notice is backed by enough proof." He prefers weaving all the facts in the form of fiction for he believes, "Who would read text books on terrorism? Gyan has to be the part of the plot to keep people engaged."

In this book, he has also specified that terrorism is because of economic and political reasons and is not a result of religious fanaticism always. Albeit his criticism of the system, he feels what give Indians power is the Right to Freedom of Expression and Speech, "That forms the genesis of all my books. I put the Right into practice everytime I write a book."

Mukul took a year's time to complete Blow Back and plans to release his next book, which is last in this series, Tanzeem next year. On the cards is a series of seven books on crime that he started working on. Bollywood and London Studios have approached him for copyrights to his books, "Hope people after reading truth will be able to see truth!"

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Brides made
Complementing each other's creations the designers at Chandigarh Fashion Week present a colourful palette for brides-to-be
Neha Walia

Photo: Pradeep Tewari

Classic, elaborate and elegant. That's signature Pallavi Jaikishan. Lehengas, ghagra-choli, saris, embroidered to perfection in georgettes, chiffons, brocades, net. Gotta patti work, badla work, flower motifs and opulent evening dresses. Even that's signature Pallavi Jaikishan. When it's her, fashion becomes sensuous, without even trying hard for it. Displaying her bridal collection at the Chandigarh Fashion Week, the mother-daughter duo of Pallavi and Bhairavi Jaikishan impressed the city with their classic appeal and royal designs.

Having showcased their collection on Friday evening, we chatted the designer duo at Samsaara. "We have always got tremendous business from Chandigarh. My travelling has kept me away from the city, but Chandigarh Fashion Week was the right time to interact with our strong clientele here,' says the ace designer. Bride being her favourite muse, even her collection at the HDIL fashion week had five stages, displaying different moods of a bride. At CFW, Pallavi's collection celebrated each aspect from colours to drapes to cuts and fits. The designs had antique meenakari jewellery with use of fine embroidery on fabrics like georgettes and brocades, a range for the flirty and naughty bride that had lehengas with pre-draped dupattas in fabrics like net, satin and velvet. Champagne gold, watermelon reds, apricot, soft pinks and peaches dominated the colour palette. Then there were Tiger print saris from her daughter Bhairavi. Her designs are a hit, be it Mumbai or Paris. "Most of my designs are classic, they can be worn even after 20 years. I believe in keeping my designs and my clientele exclusive," says Pallavi. Well, fashion did start with the elites, isn't it?

Ethnic essence

Bridal trousseau, wedding collections, ethnic ensembles celebrating everything rich and Indian is Sulakshna Moonga's collection. And cashing on the big fat Punjabi wedding, designers at Chandigarh Fashion Week have the latest bridal collections at display to make sure people in the region go hungry for designer weddings. "The market in Punjab is open to grandeur, because of its rich culture," feels Sulakshna Moonga, a Delhi based designer who displayed her ethnic collection, Proud as a Peacock. "My designs are inspired by the mudras of peacock, in their colours, technique and treatment. It has a mix of ethnic essence with modern cuts."

The collection also has a rich use of lilacs, blue and gold. An interesting blend of silhouette, colours, weaves, embroidery and fits made her collection stand out. But that's Sulakhshna Moonga. "The trends have changed. On cocktail evenings before or after the show, brides are ready to wear a mini, sleeveless or even a backless dress. They don't shy away from wearing fitted lehenga, halter blouses. But at the same time, they want an Indian twist to the garment. We take the western cuts and blend them with traditional Indian techniques," says Monga who has the credit of showing her collections at several international fashion weeks including the Dubai Fashion week.

With her collection, she has tried to create a personalised colour palette and look, creating an entire ensemble out of individual pieces. "The royal fabrics brings fore the rich weaving tradition of India and the superb craftsmanship that effortlessly blends together the various cultural influences," she adds.

Connecting her designs to her soul, research is what makes the backbone of her collection. "It is a very important part of designing. I have come here with no expectations, but just with a concept of what people would like. You understand the culture and then create a work." One more thing, "No showstoppers for me. Celebs look good sitting in the front row, not on ramp."

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On a mission
S.D Sharma

As a child prodigy, seven-year-old Pammi was in high demand at school functions as well as among elders of a sleepy village—Jakhepal in Sangrur district of Punjab - to sing Mere chacha ji ki moonchh, the only song he knew at that time.

"Due to its satirical content or maybe my raw but mellifluous voice, villagers relished it," says Paramjit Singh Sidhu, affectionately known as Pammi Bai by folk music lovers the world over.

Pammi is firmly attached to his roots and is resolute to perform, propagate and promote the rich Punjabi folk music, which he has already been doing for over two decades.

"I am indebted to members of the Punjab State Language Advisory Board, which is headed by Upinder Kaur, for giving me the prestigious Shiromani Punjabi Singer and Musician State Award 2009," says Pammi with pride. "Now my responsibility has increased manifold," he adds. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh, a citation certification and memento.

Much to the dislike of his father Sardar Partap Singh Baghi, a sub-registrar in the revenue department at Sunam, Paramjit failed to resist his passion for Punjabi folk music although he later secured two post-graduate degrees in Public Administration and Punjabi Literature, besides a LLB degree. He also rose to the position of programme director in NZCC.

"Having established myself as a top bhangra star, I learnt folk singing systematically from Ustad Bhana Ram. My first duet album with Narinder Biba was released in 1987. I later featured in recordings with Surinder Kaur and in Jagjit Singh's album Ichhbal," he shares.

"The journey from my first album Majhe Malve Doabe Dian Boliyan to Punjaban has been utterly satisfying," he says.

Pammi feels the intrusion of Punjabi pop will not harm the centuries-old culture of folk music. "See the West is looking towards to us, but we do not take note of it," he signs off.

Double the treat
The Daily Bread Café is one stop for both parents and kids
Jasmine Singh

Next time you drop in Sector 17 for an endless shopping spree, with tiny tots in tow wondering what have they done to invite this torture there is one place where kiddos can be kids and parents can relax. Called the The Daily Bread Café, right above Kidsown-17 this newly opened café is one place where you can sit down and dig into Belgian Waffle, Burgers and Doughnuts without worrying about your child. As mummy shops, kids can have a good time at the toddler and play area and once she is back the jig bang can enjoy a good lunch or soups.

Says Tarun Sibal, managing director, Kidsown, Sector 17, “With Daily Bread Café we wanted to bring the best of ingredients of the highest quality which are nominally priced. It is about putting health back into the food.”

This he does through an assorted menu, which provides Pizzas, American Munches (New York Style Chicken Hot Dog, Cajun Style Chicken Fillet Burger, Baker’s Basket (Farmers Apple Pie, Grandpa’s Choc Chip Cookies), Freshly Brewed Cappuccino, Mocha, Latte, special selection teas (Kashmiri Kahwa, Mist Queen).

The café too has been done up tastefully, with a pool table, bold brush strokes on the walls depicting various cafes and hotels and musical instruments. “The place is like a relax and chillout zone, wherein families, kids, youngsters can sit back enjoy a coffee, read, work on the laptops, listen to music and savour healthy delicacies,” adds Tarun Sibal. More to the café, a CCT camera at the café allows the parents to keep a watch on their kids playing at the Kidsown area. Smiles Tarun, “In a way this café will facilitate parents and kids to spend quality time together while they enjoy healthy dishes (no dinner please). Youngsters too will find it as nice hangout place that is pocket friendly! Enough reason to check out the place soon.

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Melody makes a man
From plying a tonga to pulling a rehra, Sharif Eedu’s musical journey has come full circle with Folk, Raagi Dhadi Kavishar award
SD Sharma

Humility, hard work and loyalty for preserving the purity of Punjabi folk singing will account for Sharif Eedu’s winning the Rashtriya Sangeet Natak award or the coveted Rs 2.5 lakh Punjab state folk Ragi, Dhadi Kavishar award. Eedu (75) had never dreamt of bagging this award while plying a tonga and later a rehra in the outskirts of Manimanja for years. Struggling for survival he left his ancestral village Lalauda in Punjab to settle at Manimajra, but the belief of the accomplished Sarangi maestro was so deep rooted that he never fell to the charms of easy money (read making Punjabi pop or allied genres).

On being selected for the coveted award of Rs 2.5 lakh by the Punjab State Language Advisory Board he was more elated to share his voyage to stardom in Punjabi folk Ragi Dhadi and Kavishiri traditions. Happily plying tonga from Manimajra to Mansa Devi and later switching over to delivery of cement and other material on his rehra, solely encouraged by his wife Usha he never missed regular riyaz even in appalling penury. He used to perform at small akharas singing the ballads and qissa’s of the slumbering love legends of undivided Punjab like Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnu, Mirza Sahiba for a paltry sum.

“The NZCC Patiala helped me. They offered singing assignments to me and even payed a modest stipend to the Ustad and five shagirds for teaching Sarangi, dhadd and folk music. But the scheme got shelved later but I kept on performing ignoring the programmes of Punjabi pop type music. It was indeed memorable for me to play for ten minutes before the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi in Apna Utsav at New Delhi who evinced interest in the soulful strains of Heer Waris emanating from my Sarangi. I even had the honour to render the ballad of Shaeed Udham Singh before Atal Bihari Vajpayee sahib later,” he says. He sums, “Both Kamal Tewari and GS Channi, representatives of Rashtriya Sangeet Natak New Delhi recommended my case and the national honour came my way in 2006. The honour added luster to my otherwise low profile and comparatively handsome remunerations poured in especially from Canada where I performed at the Gadri Baba Fair in Vancouver. To keep up our legacy my sons Nasarat Ali Khan, Gulzar Khan and Vicky Khan play music, but are more educated and accomplished than me.”

Run for your money

On his seventh half marathon run, Yashovardhan Saboo is running for a cause. “Every kilometer run by me will be sponsored with a donation of Rs 5,000 by my friends for the education of underprivileged children,” he says.

Saboo enjoys running as a form of fitness and started half marathons over two years back. “Delhi was my first half marathon, and since then I have done six,” he says.

“Marathons, world over, are used to promote charities. This being Chandigarh’s first marathon I thought it would be a great idea to kick start charity as well,” shares Saboo. The money collected will be donated to Bharat Prakash Foundation that works for the education of underprivileged girls. — TNS

Child’s play

It’s like fumbling for the drawing file in a school bag and turning over the beautiful drawing sheets of a school student. There’s landscape, hut, stream, river, grass, birds. Extravaganza of Colours, an art exhibition by Class VIII student Chirag Ahuja captures countryside in myriad hues and all its moods.

There pencil shading sketches of great figures to begin with; Sri Aurobindp Ghosh, M. Visvesvarya, Sardar Patel. Moving over to the most dominating theme in entire collection; the scenic nature. There’s a hut, a stream flowing through it, birds, trees, mountains, fencing, grass, pebbles, fields, shallow river, cattle, farm, scenic view during the sunset, camel, desert and sand dunes…There’s beachside, shore, deep sea, ships in others. Says Chirag, Mount Carmel student, “I wanted to depict freshness of nature in all these works. This is also to make people aware of global warming, climate change and how it affects our natural resources and the environment around us. How it’s all so beautiful and we should be preserving it.” Talking of the social messages, a few works comprise posters on road safety, one on do not cut trees, other with a flight safety message, a poster on water conservation comprising a water droplet encompassing life form. Adds Chirag, “Drawing is my hobby and on display are 80 of my works. A collection spanning six years so some of the works that you see I painted in Class III.” No wonder, it’s art for future. “It takes me at least one hour to draw any of these.” Prizes that each work qualified for and won, serve for captions.

Further down a few canvases, there are still objects, lotuses, charcoal, just a rose in another, a peacock perched on a branch, music instruments, fruits and so on. — TNS

Matka chowk
Facade of a city
Sreedhara Bhasin

I think its time I revive my ‘Faces of Chandigarh,’ before the theme gets too stale. Faces attempts to introduce to you, people who have moved to Chandigarh from many places – the new residents, who now dictate the city’s cultural landscape and imminent future. The melting pot theory is no good, but pluralism in a young and dynamic group that is growing will change forever what we know as the City Beautiful.

I present here – Vinay Ravish, 26, single – A young IT Professional who is an engineer in a local branch of an American IT company. Originally from Kaithal, Haryana, he has lived here for the past three years. The interview follows.

Why did you move to Chandigarh?
Got my first job here in Chandigarh.

What is the one thing that you love about the city? City Beautiful. I like the traffic system. Roads are wide and the way this city is managed. I personally think that it may be that the municipal body is less corrupt and works well to keep this place clean. Also the nearby locations like Shimla, Kasauli, Morni Hills, you can travel to and enjoy whenever you get one or two days off from you hard work schedule.

What is the best food you have eaten here?
Actually I have eaten lots of stuff here for the first time and I like them all, like Domino’s Pizza, Spring Rolls.

Have you been to any of these places—The Sukhna Lake, Punjab University, Matka Chowk, Rose Garden?

I have visited the Sukhna Lake, Matka Chowk and Punjab University. Lake is really great. I will definitely visit the Rose Garden to steal some nice Rose stems to plant in my garden.

Have you heard of Le Corbusier? Dr. Randhawa?

I have only heard about Le Corbusier that he was the Swiss or French architect who designed the city.

What is your favourite hangout here?

Obviously, the Sukhna Lake.

What do you think of the Chandigarh girls?

Ufffff, Now I am sweating even on this cold day. Yeah, I accept that Chandigarh girls are smart and confident.

What is your idea of a perfect Chandigarh Sunday?

Wake up late, then have a Domino’s Pizza (cheese burst Farmhouse), after that a good movie, and then outing and finally a long and fast drive at around midnight because roads are wide and curves are nice.

Do you want to settle in Chandigarh? How do you see the city ten years from now?

Yes, I definitely want to settle here in Chandigarh. After 10 years, traffic conditions will be bad. Lots of IT companies are coming here. Soon it will become a metropolitan city and will be generating lot of jobs, that’s good but I am afraid a bit because I don’t want to see the condition of this city to be like Delhi or Gurgaon in the future.

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(People are randomly picked for this column)

Just jewels
Tribune News Service

Deepika Gupta, jewellery designer from Delhi who specializes in traditional kundan and polki gold jewellery showcased her collection at the Chandigarh Fashion Week.

While her first break came during an international Trade Show of Jewellery in Milan, at CFW she exhibited her products winning accolades and appreciation. Having exhibited her products in countries like US, UK, UAE and parts of Europe her creativity, coupled with dedication and vision has transformed into reality. In a short span of seven years she has created a exclusive line of kundan, polki, designer gold jhumkis, and silver jewellery.

“My products are available with an assurance of high quality and standard. Every piece of my jewellery item has to meet the stringent quality control testing on different physical and chemical parameters. They are also tested for the purity of the metal and weight,” she says.

Picks & piques
Show time
Johnson Thomas

Four films released this week and the best thing was that all four had at least a bearable standard. Ishqiya from the Vishal Bharadwaj stable was the best of the lot. Road to Sangam was poignant and moving while Ram Gopal Verma's Rann and Vishal Bhandari's The Hangman are films which could definitely have been much better but for flaws in their respective narratives.

Convincing & exciting

Ishqiya is better realised than Kaminey. Their stories are different but the entire plotting, sequence of events and technique has a déjà vu feel to it. Abhishek Chaube is after all Vishal Bharadwaj's student and his aping of his master's style should not come as a surprise. Well, Ishqiya has definitely turned out well. It is both convincing and exciting. That's not to say that it doesn't have its share of faults. The central character Krishnaji (essayed wonderfully by Vidya Balan) is not well-developed. You are never convinced about her motivations. The odd twosome of mama (Naseeruddin Shah) and Bhanja (Arshad Warsi) are interesting enough but even their personas do not carry much weight. And the convoluted plotting of the finale (though less complicated than the one in Kaminey) appears grating. But nevertheless, there is magic in Ishqiya. The cinematography captures the essence and true nature of the tale quite beautifully. The rustic setting, the brown hued landscape, the grungy look of the two vagabonds all come across as true and believable. The tone is sexy and playful while the mood is beguiling. The use of the local language adds to the excitement. You get doubly involved and engrossed because the local twang is so beautifully rendered. The entire treatment is such that you are able to overlook the flaws and get carried away by the ride. Vidya Balan looks terrific and gives off her best performance to date. She is every bit Krishnaji, the seductive widow who changes colour faster than a chameleon. Naseerudin Shah as Mamu, is in his element here. He brings off a performance that harkens back to his heady Bhavni Bhavai days. Arshad Warsi also manages to stamp his mark here. Adding juice to the experience is Vishal Bharadwaj's enchanting musical score. Dil tho Bachcha hai brings back memories of the Raj Kapoor ditties of yore and Ibn-e-batuta is simply outstanding and Rekha Bharadwj's voice and talents has much to do with it. This is a film that can hold your attention right through its runtime. Watch it!

Missed opportunity

Vishal Bhandari's, The Hangman is obviously one of those films, which couldn't find a buyer for a long time. The stars of the film look almost ten years younger than their present day appearances and the film itself wears a dated look. But that's not all. This story about a government appointed hangman and the tragedy that befalls him after he attempts to break away from the tradition bound hereditary occupation is entirely in a language (English) alien to the milieu it is set in.

It's the early 70's and Shiva (Om Puri) who lives in a village somewhere in Maharashtra is trying his best to convince the Jailor saab (Gulshan Grover) of a small town prison to help him get out of the deplorable job which pays pitifully and causes great mental anguish to him and his family. The end seems near but just when he seems to have achieved his heart-felt wish, everything crumbles around him. His son Ganesh (Shreyas) who is sent to the city, falls into bad company, ends up committing murder and awaits the hangman's noose. Shiva is granted retirement but he wants to make his son's final journey as painless as possible and therefore takes on the role for the last time.

It's a tragic tale but its power is lost in the strange sounding English dialogues.

The narrative is simple and fluid enough but the characters are not exactly well developed. There is also little depth in the plotting. It's too straight-forward and simple to suit what could have been a far more complex and soul-reaching drama. This is clearly a case of missed opportunity!

Yeh dil maange more!

Road to Sangam is like the poor man's Lage Raho Munnabhai it preaches the same value systems 'Gandhigiri' seen in the commercial hit but in a far more serious and heavy-duty manner.

Hashmatullah (Paresh Rawal) is a car mechanic who is entrusted with the important task of resurrecting an old car engine, one that carried Gandhiji's ashes to the Sangam. The reason behind this is the finding of the last urn that carried the Mahatma's ashes and according to the plan supported by Tushar Gandhi (playing himself), Gandhiji's grandson, it's got to be the same route for the final journey in the same old vintage Ford car used in the previous one. So Hashmatullah is all keyed up to do his best. His reputation is at stake and his liberalistic ideals see opportunity in the whole reconstructed journey. But riots break out and tempers are raised by some rabble-rousing zealots (Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra). The community decides to observe a bandh and Hashmatullah has to beg to get a reprieve so that he can work on the engine. He tries to reason with the leaders but becomes a pariah instead. The rest of the film deals with how he achieves his goal without having to resort to any form of violence. The story is a tad too simplistic and the treatment is also too simple. The narrative is straightforward and lacks a subtext. First time helmer Amrit Rai narrates the story with all sincerity and sobriety. As a result the entire sequence of events appears blown-out of proportion, lacking in the required tension and drama. The film could have been more effective with a stronger dose of tension.

The performances are however exemplary. Paresh Rawal gives a solid performance as Hashmatullah, Om Puri as the aggrieved and vengeful committee chairman is convincing but it's Pawan Malhotra who steals the show as the rabble-rousing maulvi. This is a film that is sure to touch you, it's poignant and moving but it's unlikely to leave a lasting impression.

Personal perspective

Ram Gopal Verma goes topical and the media is at the receiving end. Rann is a film about the media- (at least RGV thinks it is) and how it malfunctions in the present day. But it's a blinkered vision at best.

Vijay Harshvardhan Malik (Amitabh) is a television baron who follows the strict ethical code of relaying news like it should be but the world around him doesn't believe in that ideology and his channels TRP's start plummeting. So his son Jai (Sudeep) decides to abandon his father's strict guidelines and resorts to underhand machinations in an effort to prop-up the business.

The media has been at the receiving end of several films before and this one has nothing new to say save for representing RGV's personal angst. The attack on the lack of principles and the murky practices of the media appears to be a personal diatribe. And it comes across as the rant of a disgruntled filmmaker. The film has a thriller format and the narrative is quite taut and cannily hewn. The performances are also quite solid. But the entire sequence of events be it the sting operation, the politician-journalist nexus, the behind-the-scenes shenanigans lack conviction mainly because it's made by someone who just doesn't know the true inside story of the news world. It's RGV's perspective on display here and it's just too coloured and incredulous to be anywhere close to appealing. After his recent debacles we have stopped expecting anything solid from RGV. So this one will really not matter much either!

Hello tunez
Soulful sufi

My Name Is Khan (Sony Music): Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Karan Johar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy together combination spells success. Particularly because music has all along been the mainstay of Karan Johar films. They weave magic whenever they come together. However, this time they have gone in more for quality than popularity in this Muslim-centric movie. It seems unlikely that the songs will prove to be chartbusters, considering that most of them have classical and sufiana undertones.

There are only five songs, plus one Khan theme, all of which are suffused in typically religious kind of music. The rest of the album is filled with tracks from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kal Ho Na Ho and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Then there is also a video trailer of My Name is Khan.

The album opens with Sajda. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is going from strength to strength and he has found perfect counterfoils in Shankar Mahadevan and Richa Sharma. Notice the excellent use of the tabla and the dholak in the song.

The same religious fervour is noticeable in Noor e Khuda (Adnan Sami, Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal) and Allah hi Reham by Rashid Khan, which is almost a prayer.

When it comes to romantic songs, there is an exceptionally impressive and melodious "Tere naina" by Shafqat Amanat Ali. Midway through, it shifts to the quawwali mode.

Rang de by Shankar Mahadevan and Suraj Jaggan has foot-tapping qualities. It brings rock into the album for the first time and talks of love, peace, joy.

The My Name is Khan theme song is by Pakistani band Strings.

These songs may be befitting the situations in the film but it remains to be seen how much they appeal to the lay listener. Lyrics are by Niranjan Iyengar.

Religious serendipity

Living With Sai (Times Music): Shirdi Ke Sai Baba is held in highest esteem by all sections of society. Here, some of the best singers of Hindi film industry have come together to sing bhajans in his honour. These include Sadhna Sargam, Suresh Wadekar, Shankar Mahadevan, Shilpa Rao and Sukhwinder Singh.

These have been written and composed by Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, a retired senior bureaucrat from Baripada, Orissa, who is an ardent Sai devotee. The eight tracks may not boast of very sophisticated words but are overflowing with devotion and ecstasy of a true seeker.

Coincidentally, the names of all the singers and the composer begin with S, as does that of Sai Baba. — ASC

Tarot talk
P Khurrana

ARIES: "Ace of Swords" pulls you in opposite direction when making a decision. You will be better able to cope with jobs that require team efforts. Home entertaining should go off rather well. Women: keep your stakes low while playing cards on Wednesday. Tip of the week: You gain by being practical; don't be emotional. Lucky colour: Golden yellow.

TAURUS: 'The Hanged Man' manifests the spirit of the mighty waters as several changes flow in, and the past is left behind. Check your car before you set out. Relatives will be sensitive and difficult to get along with. Old patients: an improvement is indicated in health on Friday. Do not get involved in any land deals on Tuesday. Tip of the week: Do what is right and watch your best interests. Lucky colour: Peacock green.

GEMINI: "The Magus" blesses you sensitivity and creativity in whatever you do. A secret love affair will bring you some added pleasure. Make your boss aware of all the hard work that you have been putting in. Share problems with loved ones. Tip of the week: Delays are the only obstacle in your way to success. Lucky colour: Ebony

CANCER: "The Ace Of wands" advice you not to have any truck with a Gemini. Over eating, drinking, over anything will be regretted. Do not take any risk with your savings. Romance could be an anticlimax on Saturday. Be tactful in your criticism though emotions will be easily aroused. Tip of the week: "Where there is a will, there is a way" is an old saying that holds true in your case this week. Lucky colour: Emerald.

LEO: "The Fool" gives you taste of freedom and release's you from emotional restrictions. Avoid making changes on Tuesday. It is best to make time with important matters. Emotions have to be controlled. Students, you can muster to avoid strikes or walkout. No matter how hard you try little will go right for you. Tip of the week: Empty promises are certain, therefore try to put your terms and conditions in writing. Lucky colour: Pomegranate red

VIRGO: Your card "Judgment" is reversed so be careful not to let public opinion go against you. Personal plans are likely to receive a severe set-back. Tiffs are likely at the work place. Pay attention to behind the scene activities. Money flow will increase this week. Saturday could see you in a passionate mood. Tip of the week: Work could pose certain minor difficulties but don't worry. Lucky colour: Rainbow pastels.

LIBRA: The card of "The Magician" brings a day of change and mutation, whether you want it or not. Socially there could be a nice surprise in store for you. Discussions behind closed doors could work out very well on Thursday. No need to worry about health. Keep on the course that you have already set for yourself. Tip of the week: Use careful judgment in handling issues involving property. Lucky colour: White.

SCORPIO: "Six of wands" bring a gracious and aesthetic influence in your life. Household task can be done on record time. A fruitful journey is on the cards. A retail business may prove fruitful. Ask superiors for dinner party together this Saturday. Tip of the week: Minor official pin pricks are better ignored. Lucky colour: Silver.

SAGITTARIUS: Your card "The Hermit" provides harmony, friendship and understanding. Try not to loose your temper. If your pet has been out of sorts, check with the vet. Very good time to attend a party or any other function. Those involved in business will receive a good offer. Tip of the week: Plan your life to avoid the in build delays that comes your way. Lucky colour: Peacock green.

CAPRICORN: "The Ace of Pentacles" leads to actualisation of personal and professional plans. You will be feeling much better. Progress can be made with employment activities. Investigate your overall financial situation. Do not waste your spare time on gossips. Do not mix business with family affairs. Tip of the week: Focus on the better to mitigate the bitter. Lucky colour: Silver grey.

AQUARIUS: "The Lovers" inspire you with love and creativity today. Artists/models do not aim too high. Health could slow you down. Employment problems are likely to be pilling up. Push hard to conclude any real estate deal already underway. Tip of the week: You find within yourself a fountainhead of a will power. Lucky colour: Saffron.

PISCES: "The Priestess" infuses a pure and exalted influence in your life. It is time to prove your worth. A happy news for some is about to pour in. Tuesday can be a little hectic. Interference to your personal plans is indicated. Monday is liable to raise your emotional hackles. Tip of the week: Versatility and a quicksilver mind will bail you out of a situation. Lucky Colour: Turquoise.

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