Slow & steady
Yami Gautam shares screen space with Sudanshu Pandey in the movie Ek Noor
Jasmine Singh

Albeit the world under limelight looks enticing, there is always more to what meets the eye. Stylish clothing line, 'exotic' make-up kits, fancy hair-dos, chunky and seemingly expensive jewellery, a visible screen space, interview line ups… are just one side of the glossy picture.

The other side conjures up an image of hardcore competition, compromises, choices, and long, enervating working hours. Yami Gautam, the pretty face playing the lead in Yeh Pyar Na Hoga Kam on Colors is familiar with both the sides, and has created a middle path guarded by the right choices, dedication, quality work, aptitude, conscience, value system and belief. This has made life simpler and work, enjoyable!

"Sure it has," she beams. "Television like any other industry is competitive. Glamour and fame are shortlived. An actor needs skill and conviction to survive. Yes, one needs to be different as well."

Different, where and how, we ask her to elaborate. "Life is all about personal choices," says Yami, who was pursuing Law before making a debut with NDTV's Aryan. "I had the choice of doing sitcoms that are garnering highest TRP's, but I wasn't convinced with them. As a television personality, I wouldn't want to do roles for the heck of it. As a person, I follow my heart. I need to get an approval from my mind and heart before I take up an assignment. This is what I mean by difference," she smiles.

Talking about 'difference', we bet television hasn't heard about it all, for they believe in the antonym, 'stereotype'. Every second serial has a glorified theme on social evils, whether it is dowry, caste, widow marriage or female foeticide. Yami has her answer ready. "All these serials have a purpose. We are not showing them as hardcore documentaries. We are trying to highlight the problems in an entertaining manner. Such taboos exist in society, and these serials are just making the public aware of it."

What about repetitiveness in themes? "Television has taken a lead in making people aware," shares the city-bred Yami. "Colors are doing something different in this respect," she says.

A breather from the overrated rona dhona? "I don't relate to this stuff. As I said before, I had a chance to do such stuff, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I would have done 2-3 movies by now, but I wasn't convinced."

Belief defines the man
In the city for a shoot, actor-cum-singer Sudhanshu Pandey talks of the intuitions that shaped the course of his career
Jasmine Singh

Soak up some words of wisdom — if you have a strong foundation, you needn't bother about the calamities. Absolutely. Sudhanshu Pandey, the actor-cum-singer, born in Uttar Pradesh, has seen himself fighting with calamities, but never did the foundation of his belief and trust in the goodness of life quiver!

"I don't live in a make-believe world. I live with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I have self-taught myself with my own experiences, which are in abundance. The foundation is strong, everything else is taken care of," smiles Sudhanshu Pandey, lead actor for the under production Ek Noor, a love story based on organ donation.

The wisdom definitely comes from experiences. Sudhanshu today has it in abundance. "Imagine a 19-year-old with no pocket money encashing a cheque of Rs 25,000. For once, it dismantled me completely," laughs Sudhanshu, who can be still slotted as a 'hunk' of the industry. He has been a model for big brands, including Bhilwara Suitings, Monte Carlo, Nivea, Digjam, Ceat Tyres, among others, and has also done fashion shows for Rohit Bal, Ashish Soni and JJ Walaya. Add to this international shows for Gabanna, John Franco Ferry, singer in the rock group The Band Of Boys, acting debut in Khiladi 420 (year 2000) opposite Akshay Kumar and Mahima Choudhary…Sudhanshu indeed has a bagful!

Barring one odd choice here and there, few hiccups, miscalculations, intuitions gone astray, Bollywood has been a pretty eventful place for Sudhanshu. And even better after the success of Singh Is Kingg! He swells with a sense of achievement. "I am getting fan mails from across the world. It was a fantastic experience and really fruitful."

With so many Singh's accompanying the King (Akshay Kumar), the thought of going unnoticed was pretty natural? "It never occurred to me," says Sudhanshu, taking our attention to the new trend of multi-starer films, which are a hit these days. "A film today is also about characterisation. It is not just about a hero, it is known by strong characters that add weight to the movie."

And the actors? A lot of unconventional and regular faces in the lead. "Look at Irrfan Khan, Rajpal Yadav, directors are making movies with them in the lead. So, hero and acting is no longer about good looks. This, of course, is one criteria, but the audiences and industry is finding more matter in the brain and talent, and chasing on it too," puts in the actor, who is all set to show up onscreen with Alibaag.

There is more to Sudhanshu, singing spree, acting schedules, family…the real Sundhanshu Pandey has sifted the real from the imaginary. And how? "I was a member of the Band of Boys, but quiet because it wasn't getting the right treatment. I didn't run after projects because I didn't feel it was the right thing to do. I am working now because it makes sense," he says, having found acceptance in life. "I was shooting with Vinod Khanna for Tell Me Oh Kudha, and he said something that made all the sense — How do we know that the world we are living in is not a dream and how can you say that dreams are not real? At a given point in life, they could swap places."

Spare a thought!

Rosy times ahead!

Tradition is back and with it is the modern muse of entertainment. The Rose Festival — the annual ritual of welcoming spring, the fun rides, crowning of the 'rose prince' and 'princess' and jazzed up evenings with celebrity performances — begins today. For three days now, Rose Garden would be the most happening place in Chandigarh!

The lively, well-displayed cut-outs, tableaux, murals and paintings for the event are a visual treat. While the day will witness various events and competitions, the evenings will be full on glamour. The list includes an opening show by city-based ITFT students, Mahekti Shaam, which will present a medley of Bollywood songs from 1947 to 2010. It has 23 sequences that will be performed by 40 artistes.

"It is an attempt to promote tourism through Bollywood. The entire act took one month of rehearsals," says Gulshan Sharma, executive director, ITFT.

Roping in more fun will be artistes from Belarus with their aerial hoola-hoop and stage gymnasts who will perform with ribbons, double loops, skipping ropes and balls. These artistes have performed in the Olympics team of Belarus and have been part of various festivals and competitions in Europe, Russia and USA.

Bringing in more glamour will be Koena Mitra, who will perform live along with her troupe. Designer label 'Libas and Anamika' will showcase their spring summer collection with Shawar Ali and Mreenal Deshraj, who is a known name on television, walking the ramp.

And not to miss...the last blast of masti will be provided by Kunal Ganjawala who will perform live for city folks! — Neha Walia

Cuisine with a difference
Rajdhani chain of vegetarian thali restaurant is here to serve food that delights the palate
Neha Walia

Don't we Punjabis love our butter chickens, mutton rahras and keema kalegi kebabs? In a region where vegetables have still not found their due space in the kitchen, what happens to a strictly vegetarian, authentic Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine restaurant?

On a regular day, it is supposed to fade away after the initial curiosity. But when it's Rajdhani, India's premier vegetarian thali restaurant that opened at the DT mall, IT Park, on Thursday, all things veggie take the lead!

With a master menu of over 28,000 dishes, 72 different rotating menus, 27 different items in your thali at one time and cuisine from Rajasthan, Maharasthra and Kathiawad, expect your plate to be full!

"This is our first venture into the Punjab market, our 30th opening, in 20 cities across the country in addition to one each in Dubai and Oman," says Ajikumar Nair, general manager, corporate, for Rajdhani.

A food chain since the past two decades now, Rajdhani offers variety in a never-before manner, delivering nutritious food faster than fast food! Their menu include authentic Rajasthani and Gujarati recipes like barbecued Chaas, Bajri Rotlas, Usal, Trevati Daal Bati Churma, Gatte Ka Saag, Kathiawadi Kadhi, Dal Dhokli, Dhokla with curd, a variety of Khichadi, Khandvi, Bhakris…the list is exhaustive and so is the effort to make dining a royal experience.

"Till now, we have served over 68,89,885 thalis across the world and keep in mind the region-specific taste. For that we have a monthly meeting of all our chefs to decide the changes in the menu," adds Nair. The thali starts at Rs 199 and they also have kids thali for a smaller version of the hearty meal!

Their initiative, Rasoi Mein Swagat Hai, if an offer to walk into their kitchen and interact with the chef; a self-developed sign language for every product that makes serving the food easier; and the bajao concept of the traditional copper thali to express your satisfaction.

Now, who wouldn't want to avajo (come again)!

Through the lens

Bausch & Lomb, India's leading contact lens brand, announced a tie-up with Karthik Calling Karthik, the eagerly awaited movie of 2010. The company has launched Experience the change promotion, inviting all spectacle wearers to SMS 'LENS' to 56161, and avail free contact lenses to transform their looks.

The tie-up is in sync with the movie's central theme of "personality transformation" and Bausch & Lomb's mission of dramatically improving the vision and lives of people. The promotion will be active across India, from February 19-March 8.

According to Sunil Gadgil, GM - marketing, Vision Care, Bausch & Lomb India, said "We chose to partner with Karthik Calling Karthik, since the movie's theme is in perfect synergy with our belief that small changes can help an individual to transform themselves and achieve higher goals. We hope that this promotion will have a very positive effect on the lives of consumers, who choose to enhance their personality by opting for contact lenses." — TNS

Koffee break
Safe bet
Teen Patti director Leena Yadav is pinning her hopes on Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley

Shabd fame editor-turned-director Leena Yadav's second film Teen Patti is an emotionally riveting and razor-sharp edge-of-your-seat thriller about greed, deception and giants feats of imagination. It is a profoundly human story that cuts through all parameters of nationality and language and gets you in the gut. Leena is hopeful about her new film. The biggest highlight of Teen Patti is the presence of Sir Ben Kingsley. The director talks to Lifestyle about her film that releases on February 26.

What is Teen Patti about?

It is a human drama with a thriller element to it. A few twists and turns in the story will keep you on the edge of your seat.

How did you manage to rope in Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley?

For Teen Patti producer Ambika Hinduja approached the big stars. I am lucky that I have two big stars in my film. Both share screen space for the first time.

What about the four debutants?

We have four new stars in the film. They play students and have done an awesome job.

Is Teen Patti inspired from Hollywood 21?

No, it is not inspired from any Hollywood film. I and my co-writer Shiv Kumar Subramaniam wrote the script of Teen Patti before the release of '21'.

What can audiences expect from Teen Patti?

I have pinned high hopes on this film. The viewers can expect a thrilling experience. It has a universal theme and will be appreciated by all. It is different from my debut film Shabd.

Do you think Bollywood is indifferent to outsiders?

No. If you have a good story to tell, there is someone to listen to you. There is someone out there to help you. — Dharam Pal

Side Lanes
When spice messes with the masala
Joyshri Lobo

Reaching Delhi to catch an early evening flight is always a piece of cake. Take the early morning Shatabdi from Chandigarh , eat lunch at Nirulas at Connaught Place, hop into a Radio Cab for the airport and arrive your destination for dinner. Spicejet, the recent star in the Indian firmament, offers economical fares, food for cash and pleasant on board staff.

On the February 4 at 17.20 we boarded SG 209, fondly christened Rosemary. She looked slick, slim, neat and inviting. We dutifully put on our seat belts, accepted bottles of water (free of charge) and started reading the usual on board literature. By 18.30, seat belts unbuckled, we realised we were still stationary. The captain apologised a million times and thanked us for our infinite patience. He spoke in a beautiful baritone. The staff looked as if their smiles were taped on. The passengers were restive and indulged in smarmy comments. Buses drove up and we scrambled out to board another aircraft.

Rebuckled in Oregano, we were given the customary water, which we gulped in one go. The same captain spoke to us in his rich baritone. The same staff smiled with relief as the aircraft waited. Safety procedures were in progress as our well being was paramount. Each one of us thought of terrorist strikes, shoe bombers and over 100 gm of toothpaste, which could blow up a flying machine. We were happy to wait. As all doors were armed and we taxied out of the now familiar bay, we heaved a collective sigh of relief. The runway was clear, the pilot revved the engines and then there was a hissing sound. Instead of reaching for the skies, we did a U-turn, negotiated miles and miles of runway and were back home, at the bay. The captain again made a thousand apologies and thanked us for our patience. When the Cup-O-Noodles arrived, the staff poured boiling water and doled out plastic forks. A fat man stood up and started shouting. He wanted to meet the captain and would not talk to a nobody. The heavy woman with a pleasant face told him not to be rude and took control of the situation. A tall, young geek, paced up and down the aisle and spoke in soft measured tones. He then told us the media had been informed. We felt good for something was happening. We all dug into our steaming cups till the last noodle vanished. The fat man, duly charged, took out his cases and declared loudly, "I am going to catch another plane." He stalked out. All of us, on lowly, recessional budgets, wished we had the courage to do the same.

At 20.45, when we were asked to deplane, the staff raced out first as if a thousand banshees were at their heels. We boarded Dil and waited for security procedures, which were amazingly swift. Spicejet realised it was cheaper to arrange a third aircraft rather than offer us hotels. The fat man reappeared and sheepishly put his cases into the overhead trunks. He muttered in disgust, "They refused to issue me another ticket!" We all sniggered, our earlier hesitation now justified. The staff, who'd left in such haste, dragged their feet in again. The captain was still exquisitely polite and apologetic. As the engines were revved, in true Bollywood fashion, we clapped, cheered and whistled. The young nerd from abroad, cautioned, "Wait till we leave the ground!" The first time fliers, a grandmother, daughter-in-law, aunt and son were silent, terrified, wide eyed. We reached Bangalore at 23.20 and actually thanked the staff for their politeness and allowing us to deplane in one piece. Very few of us accepted the Rs1500 discount voucher offered for another Spicejet flight.

Music all the way
Nonika Singh

We must sing as we are speaking and we must speak as we are singing"… so proclaimed noted theatre actor and music director, the late BV Karanth, which emphasises the role of music in theatre and underscores the fact that the two are inextricably linked. Indeed, if music were the food of life it won't be an exaggeration to say that it is the soul of theatre, moreso of Indian theatre, which has a long tradition of musical folk forms.

But has this role been diminishing in more recent times and being relegated to the background? Avers eminent theatre director Bansi Kaul, "Yes if you think singing is music” and reminds that sound too is music! Celebrated theatre person Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry hails Karanth as a pioneer in of theatre music because for him music was anything that made sound. She adds, "Rather he had the singular ability to turn anything from empty bottles to coconut shells into instruments of music." Thus if in King Lear he recreated the sound of thunder by shaking a plywood plank, in Neelam's acclaimed play Kitchen Katha he created music through utensils, which were otherwise an important part of the text. And this is where theatre music is different from other genres of music and can't stand out or take centrestage of its own volition.

Says Kamal Tewari, chairperson Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy and a gifted music composer who has given music to over 70 plays, "Music in theatre cannot be treated as a separate entity." Nods Harinder Sohal, the most in-demand music director in Punjab, who has given the music for 100-odd plays. He elaborates, "Your music has to flow with the character and the plot. You cannot allow it to become a showcase of your personal talent." The advantage theatre music, especially live music, has is that there is a chance of improvisation right till the last moment.

Sohal recalls one particular play on the creator of Rock Garden — Nek Chand. He reminisces, "Towards the climax, I suddenly broke into a tarana, which took even the director of the play by surprise."

Of course, as in other departments, so in theatre music, it is the director who calls the shots. Tewari who has worked with who's who of Indian theatre right from Ebrahim Alkazi to Amal Allana to MK Raina shares, "Each director makes different demands. The key to theatre music doesn't lie in any hard or fast rules but in getting the pause right."

But does Indian theatre music possess a unique identity? More precisely, is it more influenced by folk music since we have so many folk forms of theatre like Saang, Nautanki, Bhavai and Naacha?

Says Kaul, "Classical music has had an equally indelible influence. Let us not forget that many musical stalwarts like Bal Gandharv had a theatre background." In fact, the series of multimedia performances titled Natyanaad, directed by Kaul especially for NSD's Bharat Rang Mahotsav, salutes and documents the role music as well as composers (like Mohan Upreti, Bhaskar Chandavarkar, etc) have played in theatre, through the decades and across regions.

Is the contribution of music directors not given due recognition? Says Kaul, "Perhaps, but this was (is) not deliberate since theatre is seen as a composite art and music like other aspects is considered a part and not whole." Yet that is not to undermine its significance or relevance.

Today, the good old tradition of singing actors may have almost faded away and use of live music might be declining, especially in contemporary plays, yet there is no dearth of good music directors. Neelam singles out names like Sanjay Upadhyay and Amod Bhatt. She is positive that persons with the background of theatre are best qualified to create music, as they understand what theatre is all about. Kaul qualifies, "Creating music for theatre is different, as you have to be part of the process of making of the play."

Nods Tewari, "Indeed only then shall you be able to give shades to the play and add to the 'between the lines' text." He asserts that it is equally creatively challenging to design music for musicals as it is for a contemporary play like Badal Sircar's Pagla Ghoda.

However, be it an out-and-out musical or merely creating the mood, music will remain an integral part of Indian theatre. Chorus Kaul and Tewari, "From birth till death, music is an inseparable part of our existence and not mere entertainment."

But Kaul cautions, "It shouldn't be an embellishment or a filler but part of the dramatic text." Taking the narrative forward, changing times may change its manifestation but not its essence. Rest assured, natya will always resonate with naad. He sums up: "Where the spoken word ceases to convey, sound takes over."

New Releases
Teen Patti

Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley in Teen Patti
Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley in Teen Patti

Directed by: Leena Yadav

Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Sir Ben Kingsley, R. Madhavan, Shradha Kapoor, Raima Sen, Dhruv Ganesh, Siddharth Kher, Vaibhav Talwar, Saira Mohan

Viewers will see Leena Yadav's cinematic vision in this razor-sharp thriller in which Amitabh Bachchan plays Venkat Subrahmaniam, a math genius from India who cracks a theory that could redefine the principles of probability and randomness. Sir Ben Kingsley plays the part of Perci Tratchenberg. Richard Gere makes a friendly appearance.

So, get ready to watch edge-of-the-seat thriller at Kiran and multiplexes at Chandigarh, Panchkula and Zirakpur.

Karthik Calling Karthik

Directed by: Vijay Lalwani

Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Shefali Shah, Ram Kapoor, Vipin Sharma, Vivan Bhatena.

Javed Akhtar's son Farhan Akhtar third movie Karthik Calling Karthik after Rock On and Luck By Chance is much-awaited psychological thriller of 2010. The film features Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar in lead roles. It has lyrics by Javed Akhtar and melodius score by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

The movie will see a release today at multiplexes in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Zirakpur. — Dharam Pal

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