The big boss!
Vindu Dara Singh is as candid as it can get. Jasmine Singh chats up…

Chance happenings. These are far too many in one life span. For some, these are a regular affair, while others wait for a 'chance' to strike at the right time. Our man today, can be conveniently placed in the first category of 'many fruitful chance happenings'.

Meeting Akshay Kumar who was shooting for Fear Factor, sharing his desire to be a part of a show like Bigg Boss Season 3, getting a call from Endemol asking him to keep his dates free for three months (October, November and December), sharing the Bigg Boss house with 13 other different personalities, surviving 84 days without too many hiccups, and finally being declared the winner of the show by Amitabh Bachchan. Vindu Dara Singh has loads of lucky chances happening in his life.

However, he attributes the success of these results to his confidence and the fact that good deeds never go unnoticed.

"I was a great fan (and still am) of two reality shows — Bigg Boss and Fear Factor. I told my wife that I would definitely win the show if I got a chance to be on it," shares Vindu, who is currently shooting for Guddu Dhanoa's The Lion of Punjab at Dara Studios, Mohali.

"I believe in living each moment, without bothering much about the future. This kept me going at the Bigg Boss house and this was my funda of survival at the show."

Need we mention, life has changed for Dara Singh's son? And what a change! "I was always an actor. Now, the industry too has woken up to this fact," he says.

Vindu is candid, calls a spade a spade, warms up to the support he has got from the nation, especially Punjab, swells up his chest on the mention of being Amitabh's favourite on the show, and trusts you with not quoting him wrong in the newspaper! Is this the real Vindu Dara Singh? "Every bit of it," he smiles. "Every bit of what you saw on the show was me. I have never felt the need to fake. The nation loved me for this."

Even when Vindu makes it sound easy and no big deal living with 13 other people without any contact with the outside world, it wasn't easy going initially. "I would help every contestant. The Bigg Boss then decided to exploit this attribute by asking me to steal food. It was berserk," adds Vindu who had to go in for a session with a physiologist for this. "Things made sense thereafter. It was a game, and I had to live for myself. I couldn't go crazy over it. Nonetheless, I couldn't let go off my real self."

Heavy-duty drama, the reality shows are all about it! "Bigg Boss was not a reality show, it was bang on real. Emotional outbursts, bickering, groupism, everything was real."

And so was his camaraderie with Raju Srivastava and Poonam Dhillon? "I got along well with Raju and Poonamji and with others as well. I couldn't understand Bhaktiyar and Tanaaz much. I did see a strong contender in Raju Srivastava, but somehow he didn't stay for long," adds the actor, ready to perform some meaty roles in the upcoming projects with Aneez Bazmi and Salman Khan.

All's well that ends well! "Definitely, life is back on the tracks. My father couldn't believe that something like Bigg Boss could happen. He is proud of me. So are his fans. I have to live up to their expectations now."

Now? "I want to revive the image of Dara Studios. I want my friends from Mumbai to come and shoot here."

Looking for the perfect miss
Ashima Sehajpal

Who says a nine to five job isn't hectic? Eight hours of work with a just half-an-hour of break in between. It's worse in case of the corporate sector. And it's worst in case of Sushmita Sen!

A production house, films, 'I Am She' (organising brand of the Miss India Universe contest) and her five-month old baby girl, Alisah: "I hardly get to sleep and when I am blessed, it's never more than five hours," quips Sushmita Sen.

Full of action indeed, but what takes up most of her time is Alisah and 'I Am She'. "Alisah is the priority, and when she is sleeping 'I Am She' becomes the part-time priority," says the former Miss Universe and actor, who was addressing a web conference on 'I Am She'. Alisah was, obviously, asleep!

And 'I Am She' would be? "This year onwards, 'I Am She' will be the official organiser of the Miss India Universe contest. The other titles, Miss India World and Miss India Earth, however, will remain with the same organisers."

Not much thought process went behind the unusual nomenclature - 'I Am She' - as Sushmita says, "The 'I Am' remains constant, rest keeps changing. 'I Am' forms the genesis of our identity that's why I have 'I Am' tattooed on my wrist too. 'I Am' is also the name of the mother brand and 'I Am She' was chosen as the name of the official preliminary to the 2010 Miss Universe pageant."

A sub-contest is scheduled to take place in Chandigarh as well, which will of course see Sushmita visit the city beautiful. "I am sure we will have some beautiful faces from the city participating in it. Chandigarh was the choice for the preliminary round, since the sponsor of the contest is from here."

As for the qualities of the winner, Sushmita knows what she's looking for, "She has to be academically driven. We will be providing scholarships in whichever subject she wants to pursue in the future. This is to assure that Bollywood isn't the only option."

She doesn't regret her acting career not doing well. With just one project, Aneez Bazmi's No Problem in her kitty, she plans to restart work on her dream project, Rani Laxmi Bai, after a few months. Till then, she's happy staying busy with Alisah, "I am enjoying seeing her grow. There is no greater romance than romancing a child. I am in love once again and enjoying it." Keep going!

In festive mode
Student fests are a big affair and so are the preparations, thoughts as well as the efforts that go into making them a success
Manpriya Khurana

The scarecrow designing event at ARCHO in 2009
The scarecrow designing event at ARCHO in 2009

Procession rally of Soch-2009
Procession rally of Soch-2009

Anything to be liked and anything to be unlike! Anything to stand out, stand apart, stand afar; with students the only common factor is Joneses syndrome! Spell student fests and it's a permutation, combination of organisation, events, sponsors, publicity,'s an attempt to outdo each other, a matter of announcing the arrival, a tug of war; needless to say everything is fair!

So there they go and some will even be the same just to be unique. Just as the Department of English and Cultural Studies did by inserting a rock show in the itinerary. Quite a departure from the last year's essentially literary character of the festival.

Shares Prity Chawla, department representative, "We held the rock show for the first time; it was a collective endeavour and an attempt to give a larger, bigger and better platform to the entire event. We wanted to rope in more crowds."

Not a 'me too' syndrome? She adds, "When we look at other departments, with much more student strength, holding the fests, it's like so what if we are less, why can't we organise it?"

Is there one more toeing the same line? Chandigarh College of Architecture has its plans in place for the upcoming Archo 2010. Shares Taruni Aggarwal, student, general secretary, for the event, "This time we are organising a rock show for which the band 'Indigo Children' will be coming to perform. We basically wanted to popularise our annual extravaganza, wanted more and more people to know about it and not limit it to just the architecture colleges."

She adds, "It's not so much of an attempt to outdo each other, but to be a little different each time. For example, this time too we've tried to change the contests and competitions that have been going on for long."

All a matter of leaving a mark, of succeeding. And do means matter? Follow the herd to make it a hit or stride past in a different direction. Just like the School of Communication Studies did with their rally. Think rickshaws and carts! Chuckles Lovedeep Sidhu, student, "Generally rallies, be they political or other student festival rallies, are associated with display of wealth and strength. Everybody's doing it the same way, so we wanted to be little different and put our point across. This was a way of being eco-friendly as well."

She adds, "We desperately want our event to be a success and agree or not we, as students, are always short of finances."

What ensues is the battle of the brain, where money's might be lacking, not the means or the methods. Adds Prity, "We do tend to compete with each other, other departments, their fests. This is not out of any personal grudges or agendas, but to make the group effort a huge success. It's like it's our fest and it has to be a success, come what may." Guess that settles any debate, whatsoever!

Well thought out!
Manpriya Khurana

— Photo: Vinay Malik It's an international students' academic event and what do you think? Of course, there's the inaugural session, panel discussion, case study, paper presentation…but that's for those who are interested!

Wade your way through the mob of shoulders and there's a lot more than organised chaos. Like with all things first, there's no criticising any student initiative. Bringing you the brainstorming, the backstage drama, the behind the scenes perspectives of Vimarsh 2010, Students' International Academic Convention.

For the uninitiated, they themselves are the first-timers. "It's essentially an academic event for one day and being held for the first time by the Panjab University Campus Students Council," Sanam Sood, one of the volunteers, briefs.

The campus students' council, an office peripherally or centrally associated with politics, violence, ruckus, whatsoever, howsoever! Shares Amit Bhatia, president, students' council, "It's a University and the main aim and objective of everyone who comes here is to study, to enrich academically. Yes, somewhere it's an attempt at image change too and how we should have more and more of such events that benefit students and provide them a platform."

Change and quite a contrasting one, from the fashion, the floss, the frivolity, hitherto the domain of the cultural extravaganza. A tangent from the Punjabi singers' nights, from the rock evenings and the fashion shows.

Vimarsh, they call it? Shares Jiwateshwar Singh, UIAMS student, "Yes, we did do brainstorming over what to call it till one of the faculty comes up with this word and everybody approves of it. It means to discuss something, is an Indian word and that's how we wanted it to be."

The well-meaning intention of the event continues, with the bhangra performance by disabled students, a solo classical, Lahaul Spiti dance performance, Tibetan dance, an ethnic round comprising fashion parade of dresses from ten states, solo classical and the like.

A peep into the law auditorium and there's a stimulating audio-visual presentation telling the audience of how the first commercial text message was sent in the December of 1992…how the gadgets increased exponentially from 84…how the information is freely available at the touch of a screen…how the only thing required is critical thinking.

Apart from the thin attendance, empty chairs, everything else is in place. Explains Swati Kundan, the organising team member, "Firstly, it's a academic event so there's no expecting crowds, only niche audience. Also it's just begun so the event will pick up later in the day."

Outside, some of the students are discussing the finances, others busy with the schedule, still some trying to calm the ruckus around, while others plain running about. Shares, Amita Deb Barma, "Even as desk volunteers and the final stage organizers we've been coming regularly and working for a week now."

What of the cultural programme held every year? Says Amit Bhatia, "Of course, that'll be held too. No second thoughts about it. But yes, we plan to continue with this too every year from now onwards." An attempt at change, still the priorities in place!

Music therapy

Music lessons improve children's ability to learn languages by increasing their brain's sensitivity to sounds, including speech, a new study has claimed.

Tests by researchers at Northwestern University, Chicago, found that exposure to music could be beneficial to the brain in its developmental stages and it has advantages for all children, including those who are dyslexic and autistic.

The researchers established a link between musical ability and the capacity of the nervous system to take in sound patterns and said playing musical instrument have a direct impact on a child's ability to learn languages.

Professor Nina Kraus, who led the team, said playing an instrument had an impact on automatic processing in the brainstem, the lower section of the brain, which governs breathing, the heartbeat and reaction to sounds.

She said: "Playing music engages the ability to extract relevant patterns, such as the sound of one's own instrument, harmonies and rhythms, from the 'soundscape'.

"Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice." A spokeswoman for the National Autistic Society, US, said many children with autism respond well to music.

She said: "It seems that music can help children to communicate and interact with those around them, relax or to express emotions." — PTI

Not enough for employment

Youth from several Indian states are "not educated enough for employment" as per the market demand, a study released, said. The findings also indicated "most youth were neither adequately educated nor equipped with vocational skills".

"Just two in every five young men (40 percent) and one in every three young women (33 percent) had completed secondary education...(and) one in every 12 young men and one in four young women had never been to school at all in the country," said the study conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The study titled 'Youth in India: Situation and Needs' assessed the situation of youth in six states - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu - between 2006 and 2008, involving over 58,000 youths in the age group of 15-29 years.

Around 44-52 percent of men and 36-48 percent of women in Maharashtra and the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had completed ten or more years of education, compared to 30-38 percent of men and 13-18 percent of women from the other states. "Basic education can be very important in helping people to get jobs and gainful employment. This connection, while always present, is particularly critical in a rapidly globalising world in which quality control and production according to strict specification can be crucial," Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said at the release of the study.

Around 56 percent of men and 68 percent of women surveyed were interested in acquiring vocational skills to help employability. The study was carried out by the Population Council, Delhi, and International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai. — IANS

Melody meets modesty
Bollywood singer Javed Ali’s take on singers and the industry in general
Jasmine Singh

Even though a fat share of the success of any movie depends on its music, when someone at Chandikrit mentioned about the live performance of a renowned Bollywood singer Javed Ali, it didn't create uproar. Sad?

We wonder even after the over-fill of umpteen number of music-based reality shows, why audiences cannot put a face to the voice? Singer Javed Ali likes to answer this with all modesty.

"I don't know why. I too would want to understand why music fans do not know about the new crop of singers." Javed tries to reason it out. "There are so many talent hunt shows that the audiences probably don't know who makes it big in Bollywood and who doesn't. The trend of cutting private albums is also fading. This means no more CDs, only pen drives. Now, where can you tell from a pen drive which singer would have sung which song?"

Javed gives a serious thought. Agreeable. But has this got to do anything with the survival of the fittest? "Of course, in the end it boils down to how long can you survive in a music industry that is so competitive," shares Javed Ali, who has given some awesome numbers like Ek Din Teri Raahon Mein from Naqaab, Guzaarish from Ghajini, Arziyaan from Delhi 6, Rehja Rehja from Golmaal and the hit Jashney Baharan from Jodhaa Akbar. "Today, a singer feels blessed if he or she gets to sing in even one Bollywood film."

What happens to the products of reality shows and work satisfaction? Javed flashes a smile, "Satisfaction! There is no time for satisfaction. A playback singer is given and explained the song on the sets, and is asked to deliver in the matter of hours. Satisfaction comes when a singer gets 2-3 days to work on a song."

On products of reality shows, Javed adds, "Overnight stars and instant success doesn't last long. I have been working towards my dream of being a playback singer since childhood. I trained under Ghulam Ali, Mallu Khan, Majid Khan and Kalyanji of the famous Kalyanji-Anandji duo. Training and riyaaz take a singer to great heights," he says.

Javed sang his first song, a duet with Anuradha Paudwal, in Viju Shah's Beti Number 1. However, he wasn't noticed. No surprises. It doesn't happen anymore. Haven't we seen Anu Malik and Farah Khan harping on a 'complete package' in a singer!

"What good are the looks for a singer if he or she cannot sing well. It is pertinent for a singer to have a good voice. Looks are immaterial," adds Javed, who wants to keep his upcoming projects as a surprise.

For men only

Godrej Expert Hair Colour launched Burgundy Blast- a trendy new look for men that can be flaunted without splurging at expensive salons. The contemporary look lends an international feel ideally suited to modern Indian man.

Godrej Expert Hair Colour extends an arm towards the consumers to devise trends and consumer insights. Research has thrown light upon the fact that men pay more attention to their personalities and hairstyles than a few years back in accordance with the latest trends.

Most men, however, still frequent local hair dressing salons ill equipped at providing trendy hairstyles. Godrej recognised the increasing divide in the industry and decided to reduce the gap by addressing the needs of the hairdresser community, through a salon programme focussing on education and inspiration.

Godrej Expert Hair Colour is the market leader in its category and is trusted by four crore users. The colour is ammonia free and results in three times less breakage as compared to any cream-based hair colour. The range includes powders in attractive shades with an affordable pricing of Rs 10 per sachet thus providing quality hair colour to consumers at an unmatched price. — TNS

Perfect beginning

Sometimes, it takes just one reality show to bring out a hurricane change in life. Pooja Tandon, one of the contestants of Lux Perfect Bride, all set for her debut in Guddu Dhanoa's movie The Lion of Punjab, agrees to it, albeit partially.

"I wouldn't deny that a reality show gets you recognition and visibility. All the same, if you are talented you don't have to depend on a reality show. It gets noticed sooner or later."

In the city shooting for the flick, Pooja is out of reality show hangover and it's time to face the real world. "I have so much to do. I have faced the camera for music videos before. Now, I am doing it for the movie, wherein I play a pind di kudi, educated with a mind of her own," says the hazel-eyed actor.

Stereotype, the word the actors on television find themselves struggling with more than once. "Unlike Bollywood, which is hero-centric, television is women-dominated. It has all that rona dhona that we have been watching for a while. The audiences would want to see something different now. Some comedy shows or other light-hearted shows that bridge the relations in a family," shares Pooja.

Back to the obvious, exaggerated melodrama. Reality shows are now seen as a platform by youngsters who want to get noticed? "Not really, chips in Pooja, some contestants on Perfect Bride had nothing to do with acting. They had come for marriage only. This is true for other shows as well. People don't come to only get noticed, they definitely come for the true spirit of the show," she signs off. — Jasmine Singh

Spirit of colour

— Photo: Vinay Malik
— Photo: Vinay Malik

Taking inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore's verse "When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower of mercy. When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song," from Gitanjali, Anjan Coomar captures the expression of life on canvas, which are currently on display at Art Folio-9.

All in all 13 frames, largely acrylic on canvas, present 'life current' through symbols such as lotus, boat, river, fish and flying piece of cloth.

Figurative paintings done in vibrant colours juxtapose contemporary themes with spirituality. As a boat, tree or river becomes the background, human faces and forms intertwine to present daily life vis-à-vis search for spirituality. The paintings combine religious symbols as well as folklore like a flowing robe of a sanyasi that lands in a princess' hands. The use of bright colours leaves you happy.

Coomar belongs to West Bengal and is a recipient of HK Kajriwal Young Artist Award - Certificate of Merit, 2007 and Certificate of Merit, FORM ICAD 2003. — Mona

(On till March 9)

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