All that Glitter
Jasmine Singh

Photo: Vicky GharuGod knows what got into Seneca, a Roman philosopher from the mid-1st century to say that we live not according to reason, but according to fashion! You bet we don't want to give a second thought, for we so know that the statement is true to the hilt.

As of now though, we are concerned about those who swear by the word fashion-more precisely fashionable jewellery. Heavy chunks, glittering pieces, ravishing designs and cuts - the word sure has a magical effect on the ladies. And it also takes their mind of wrinkles. Raise your hands if you have objections to it! Well, even if you don't, we know, jewellery is magical piece of art. The good part is that the art has acquired newer, interesting and admirable forms, which also change according to the season. Sometimes it entices with a golden shimmer, and sometimes game play of rich colours embedded in designs so make you want to flaunt them. The bottom line remains the same but — jewellery is forever!

The Invogue collection launched by Talwarsons Jewellers, Anil Talwar Group, on Sunday sparkles with changing designs, patterns and forms in jewellery. Change you know is life. So, get on with it.

As Anil Talwar would like to put it, "The change in jewellery can be seen as a change in the end-user. Earlier elders would buy jewellery for the kids, but now the decision has trickled down to the wearer, the kids themselves. This is the reason why jewellery has become more innovative ands state-of-the-art. The acceptance level with jewellery has changed too."

A good piece of heritage is what we know a piece of jewellery as, with, of course, changes in design and pattern. The Invogue collection reflects Anil Talwar's passion for jewellery. "The collection is very international in terms of design sense and wearability because it is based on a modern theme that would suit the Indian outfit." The Invogue Collection focuses on diamond polki for the season. Not very bold, these pieces are not heavy yet contemporary and can be worn with traditional stuff as well. Even when the pieces are not very intricate, the diamond polki uses a lot of colour with precious stones like rubies, tourmaline and rhodolite.

Fashion forecast for jewellery lovers — go for diamond or polki. Photo: Vicky Gharu

Jewellery is all about grandeur, however, affordability is also important. Nirmal Maheshchand from Kidar's 7 Cee Gallery is of the opinion that women buy one piece in six months or a year. "The kind of jewellery that we deal in is contemporary, affordable, presentable and authentic at the same time." The focus is playing up on the designs, for which Nirmal uses silver as the base matter. Whatever else, that is used as an accessory, like stone or kundan, is real.

"The jewellery collection is handcrafted by mastercraftsmen of real jewellery, plated in 22K Gold Veneer that combines luminescent quality of silver with ruby, emeralds, amethysts, rose quartz, golden topaz, turquoise, peridots and pearls," she says.

Contemporary pieces that can be worn on all occasions and every kind of outfit is what woman look for in jewellery these days. No wonder actor Esha Deol prefers solitaries in her jewellery wardrobe to anything heavy. "I wear jewellery according to the occasion, otherwise I like anything which is light and can be worn anytime, anywhere," she says.

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SHOOTing star
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Walking alone with his Nikon camera on the Mall Road, Shimla, we happened to meet a pleasant personality, the man behind some successful television series like Gul Gulshan Gulfam (Doordarshan), Heena and Gaatha - Parikshit Sahni.

Dressed in a black sweater, jeans and sporting a pee cap, Parikshit had no airs about his Bollywood connection (read, son of noted actor Balraj Sahni) and a career span of more than 25 years; he was in Shimla shooting for an untitled Yash Raj Production number forty.

Present tense

Though the younger lot wouldn't relate with the actor till he played R. Madhavan's father in Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots, Sahni also has to his credit classic Punjabi film 'Marhi Da Diva' (1989) and a remarkable role in Hindi film 'Pavitra Papi' (1970), which was based on a Punjabi novel of Nanak Singh. "I must say Bollywood has changed for good. We are more organised these days and the younger lot knows what they want." Ask him who is his favourite actor and pat comes the reply, "Aamir, he knows his job very well. He is not only a talented actor but an amazing human being."

Date with the hills

So, what got him to the hill capital of Himachal, Shimla? "I was shooting for an untitled Yash Raj movie and other than that I have a house in (Chakkar), Shimla. The house needed some renovation so I am getting that done." So, does he like the city, "Yes, very much. I have studied in Lawrence School, Sanawar, and its always a pleasure to be here."

Long walks, peaceful vicinity and the weather is what he likes but he says, "Concrete has taken over the city too and it has surely lost its original charm."

Tele talk

Having moved from 70mm to television there was one point of time when he was considered as the busiest actors of the small screen with as many as five serials in his hands. He says, "There is a time in everyone's life when you want to do the maximum, but then you want time for yourself, do what you like the most. I have now started my own production company by the name of my father Balraj Sahni." So what is the company doing? "I have a Bollywood movie in mind but that is still in the pipeline." Very few know this fact that he was trained as a director in Europe. If you didn't know he has directed a children's film 'Pakda Gaya Par Kaun'. Ask him is he doing serials for television and he says, "Yes, my latest serial 'Radha' is soon going to be aired."

Jack of all trades

A man with varied interests, Sahni feels suffocated if he is doing just one thing at a time. "Your dreams are as good and important as you are. One lives with them and if you give it up, you are finished."

Apart from acting and directing he has also penned down scripts like 'Hum Dono' for Ravi Chopra and 'Disha' for Cinevista.

[email protected]

What's in store

Attention collectors, fashionistas and retailers! Experts in market research and trend-spotting compiles a list of the jewelry trends for 2011:

  • Antique, vintage, retro & new combinations

  • Dramatic, unique, unusual necklaces (simple... yet exotic)

  • Ornamented bracelets

  • Eclectic natural look

  • Crystal, rhinestone & venetian art glass

  • Black, grey and neutrals

  • 2011 color predictions - blues

  • Faux & real pearls

  • Over-the-top rings (not gaudy, but daring)

  • Enormous hoops and chandelier earrings

Courtesy: Internet

Beauty amid thorns
Major General CS Bewli’s collection of cacti and succulents exceeds 400
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Cactus is a beautiful plant that stays green throughout the year and who says they are flowerless? Some of the varieties bear beautiful flowers

The Bewlis' house in Sector 36 is the place that breathes life even into woods, courtesy Major General CS Bewli (Additional Survey General, Northern Zone, Survey Of India) who is more than interested in flora. Unusual than the usual concrete homes, this house is different in a way that it is replete with greens. Not the flowering greens, but the thorny beauty called the cactus and green leafy ones named bonsai.

Maj-Gen Bewli's tryst with thorns is not too old. It was in 1994 when he first purchased Gasteria, a cactus species. Today, his collection of cacti exceeds 400. Even the first purchased cactus adorns his priceless collection.

A mechanical engineer by profession, his love for cactus has grown over the years and he believes these thorny beauties need tender care and personal touch. "Though cactus is a tough plant but to make it grow, one should understand its cultivation, propagation and conservation process."

He adds, "Albeit succulents and cacti are native to South Africa, South America and Madagascar, some cacti lovers in this region have collected a good number of species by exchanging with each other. I am always on the lookout for cacti."

Ask him out of all the flowering plants why did he choose cactus that is generally believed to bring ill-luck and he says, "It's a beautiful plant that stays green throughout the year and who says they are flowerless? Some of the varieties in cactus bear beautiful multi-hued flowers." And what of ill-omen? "Some people do believe that keeping cacti in homes is a bad omen, but the plant is one of nature's most beautiful creations and has given me fame."

His collection ranges from slow-growing Mammillaria Humbolti to rare Melocactus Azurious to Pachypodium Lamerei. Native of South Africa, Pachypodium Lamerei is best used for landscaping. While his collection can be anybody's envy, plants fill up every inch of available space in his house and he says, "Adenus and Euphorbia multi hybrid is the most sought after plant these days."

Talking of bonsai, his garden has varieties such as Euphorbia Milli Hybrid (evolved in Japan) to Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii, Aloe. The latest to join the gang — Leutchenbergia principis and Ferrocactus herarie variegated - have come from Bhubaneswar.

His passion extends beyond this; now he plans to propagate the idea of dish and bottle gardens. "It's a new concept that I am trying to spread. In dish gardens, one can have two-three cactus and succulents in a single dish. For bottle garden, also called Terrarium, which is the size of an aquarium, landscaping, and planting can be done." With green space shrinking and concrete buildings increasing, this is the only way to have some greens around! Grafting is another thing that interests him. "Grafting is wonderful for plants that have slow growth."

That's not all; Maj-Gen Bewli is a man of many talents. He has also breathed life into wood with his chisel and hammer. Creating works of art from driftwood, he has over 70 pieces of wood-craft. Animal forms like penguin, monkeys, dinosaurs and human figurines have been made of wood. "People think of wood as lifeless, but I believe that nature is beautiful and all creativity stems from there. In my various field postings, I saw nature at its best in different terrains - from Assam to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Burma to the foothills of Dehradun. It is this natural beauty that gave me inspiration," he says.

His love for cactus grows beyond plants in pots, "My desire now is to create a garden that is replete with cactus, bonsai, has a nursery, picnic spot and more. " [email protected]

Spade work
It’s sow time folks!
Satish Narula

Are you thinking of relaxing a bit now? You cannot afford to. Every gardener knows this is the busiest time and the time to relax will come in the spring when you will be enjoying every bit of the fruit of your labour.

Now, when you are over with planting seedlings, keep an eye for mortality. A gap in a bed is not tolerable and filling the gap with a different kind is deplorable. And if you are preparing for participating in a competition, then be sure on this point. We hope you have some spare seedlings or else, get them from the same source.

Do not forget the bulbs. This is the best time to plant them. Go in for iris, gladiolus, narcissus, lilium, clivia etc. Take them out of the cold storage. Keep out for a day or so, wash them with plain water and then dip in bavistin solution for two hours. The solution can be made by dissolving two gram of bavistin to a litre of water. After this, the bulbs are taken out and dried in shade to be planted in bed or pots. Now, there are two ways of planting. Either you plant them directly in soil or let them sprout outside and then plant them in soil. For this, you can wrap them in a piece of gunny bag and keep it moist. After a few days, they will sprout and also you will see fresh roots coming out of the bulbs. You can plant them keeping the sprouting side up. Out of these bulbs, narcissus can be planted on the windowsill too as it is dwarf and does not obstruct the view from inside the house. The flower is also immensely fragrant and keeps the house fresh.

This is also the final call for deciding about whether to plant peach, plum, pear, grapes, fig or mulberry etc. All of these are deciduous plants and shed leaves in the winter to go dormant. That is the only time of the year when these saplings are planted bare rooted. A piece of advice, do not get fruit plants from any and every source. You may end up planting spurious varieties that may bear flowers but no fruit.

Look up your kitchen garden too. You may have sown haldi in which case the leaves are turning yellow now. This is the time for the crop to finish. There are two things now. Either you leave the underground part, the rhizomes as such or extract some of it for processing. The underground parts will remain there through the winter and sprout again in the ensuing spring. They will then increase in size to be harvested in the next year. [email protected]

Myth of the week
Good Chemistry

The addition of chemical fertilizers will spoil the vegetables and also the health of those who consume such vegetables. Do not worry as the chemical fertilizers add to the soil the same elements as are given by manures. The form taken by the plants is also same whether manure or chemical fertilizers are applied. The only precaution is that apply only the recommended dose of fertilizers should be added or else your plants may show poor result.

Bits about Bytes
Keep data portable
Roopinder Singh

Data portability is certainly not on most users' priority list. It should be. We all routinely use devices and services from many different vendors.

Different devices tend to use distinctive, and competing, operating systems. In computers it could be Windows, Mac or Linux. As for cell phones, besides the basic ones like Apple OS, Symbian, BlackBerry and Android, there are hundreds of variations, since each vendor tries to put his or her own flavour atop the OS.

One way to escape the narrow confines of devices is to go to the Net. For example, if you use Hotmail, no matter which computer you access it from, it will function just as well. It is an application, but then, with its own set of problems. Even something as ubiquitous as e-mail is vendor-specific. Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail are all different platforms, and have distinctive ways of storing your data. Then, there are various social networking sites, like Facebook and Orkut, which also store users' data, as do photo-sharing sites like Flikcr and Picasa. All this adds up to a lot of data from one user, stored at different places.

When we talk of data portability, we are not referring to any hardware, say portable disk drives or pen drives that can physically move date from one device to another, or store it. Today, we are focusing on the ability of the people to control and freely use their personal information across various devices and the Internet.

In the context of cloud computing, open standards and privacy issues, data portability has become a standard term in the Internet industry. People should be able to control their identity, media and other forms of personal data. While the goal is easy to define, implementing it is not.

When we need to shift our data from one application to another, that's when we find out whether the two applications can talk to each other or not. For a long time, it was not possible, unless a person was really a computer nerd, and that too one with extraordinary patience and persistence. However, things have been changing over time and nowadays, many sites take measures to ensure data portability.

Initially, it seemed that for many applications, data portability comprised the ability to transport data from any application to the one you were using presently. It became a one-way street. However, mounting customer protests, a changing environment, and the European Commission's heavy hand are making true data portability happen, i.e., make it a two-way highway.

The absence of formal norms regarding data portability has been an issue of concern for both users, and even governments. The European Commission (EC) recently made public its concern about data protection and portability, especially in the context of the social networking sites and cloud computing, "as it may involve the loss of individuals' control over their potentially sensitive information when they store their data with programs hosted on someone else's hardware."

Noting that risks to privacy and the protection of personal data associated with online activity are increasing, the EC said: "At the same time, ways of collecting personal data have become increasingly elaborated and less easily detectable. For example, the use of sophisticated tools allows economic operators to better target individuals, thanks to the monitoring of their behaviour."

The EC would like to give individuals greater rights to control and even delete the personal data held on them by organisations. It is thus looking closely at the so-called "right to be forgotten", i.e. the right of individuals to have their data no longer processed and deleted when they are no longer needed for legitimate purposes, as well as "data portability", meaning the right of a person to take their information elsewhere, such as to a competing service.

Other government bodies have not been as proactive, but big companies are savvy about the need to ensure data portability, both to and from their applications. However, the road is not smooth. Google and Facebook have recently been involved in a controversy about "reciprocity" in data portability.

Google maintains that Facebook is a data dead end, and you can't export it out. Now, Google has changed its rules, and will not allow any website to automatically import contact data unless the other site is reciprocal in allowing a similar export. Techies would be able to do so, manually, but then, this is just a ploy of Google to put some pressure on Facebook.

As more and more data travels to the clouds, harmonising it becomes even more important. No company likes to give its hold on the data it has collected and every company likes to have the so-called "garden hedges" that keep users within its confines. Customers, however, must make sure that one of the determining factors in their choice of applications is data portability. They will need this feature more and more as they evolve on the Net and, therefore, need to make the right choice about which platform to use.

Offline, it makes much sense to devote much thought to the platform that you will use and the operating system that you will be straddled with. I love Apple products, have been using them since the mid-1980s, and still own two Apple desktops, but when I had to buy a laptop, I bought a Windows machine. Its ubiquitous convenience outweighed the undoubted elegance of Apple.

I should have the right to make a choice, and the ability to transfer my data from one platform or application to another. Is it too much to ask? I really don't think so!

Lyrical notes
SD Sharma

Photo: Vicky Gharu

In addition to the nitty-gritty of banking industry, RD Kailey is well-known for his passion for music. Endowed with a gifted voice, Kailey has proficiency in singing diverse genres, including ghazal, geet, thumri and poems of Shiv Kumar Batalvi.

Maintaining a credible balance between his passion and profession, he feels that while the former is decided by nature and the latter is determined by choice.

Holding a silver coin with the engraving 'on the 82nd birthday of Girija Devi', which was presented to him by the legend at Benaras after he gave a performance at her birthday celebrations, he says, "For me it was a dream come true to be blessed by the legendary classical vocalist and that too in the presence of the top musicians."

He adds, "It was sometime back while I was a regional manager of a bank at Patna that I happened to visit her at the SRA Academy in Kolkata. She invited me to sing at the function after listening to two of my ghazals."

He also performed at a concert organised by the Indian 
consulate at Nepal where he won many hearts.

"Recently, I had the privilege of presenting a ghazal concert at Kalidas Rangalaya, Patna, and Gurbani recital at the historic Gurdwara Harmandirji, Patna Saheb, the birth place of Sri Guru Gobind Singh," he says.

On the poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, which is his forte, Kailey rues that singers have so far not done justice to his emotionally charged lyrics.

Game on
Jasmine Singh

Farmville, Frontierville, Solitaire…more and more mums are getting hooked on to online games

By any chance if you are worried about what your mom is doing back home, hang on. Chances are she might not be in the kitchen planning your dinner, not even watching Ekta Kapoor girls and boys sobbing it out! There is a fair chance she isn't sleeping. In that case you need to peep in at your colleague's workstation too. For as per Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia, the new-age mothers are giving a tough competition to teenage boys as gamers!

The latest report says 46 per cent of the gamers are female, with the average age of 30 years. You might want to check with your mother, whether she is hooked to Solitaire or Classic Mah Jongg!

The first addiction is but of course with Farmville or Frontierville, and other Facebook games, which are any day a big addiction. Pooja Yadav, manager marketing, Club Mahindra and Sunanda Agnihotri, manager media house, can't stop raving about their addiction. Cross and Chopper Rescue is what they like. "I am hooked to crossword like leaves to a tree! Whenever, I find time for myself, which is rare, I am sorting out the jigsaw, which is damn interesting. Trust me, it is nothing short of an addiction," winks Sunanda. The gaming market indeed has grown and it has a place for everyone, across all age groups.

Sunita Dhir Joshi, 38, homemaker from Sector-39, who is taking a sabbatical from her corporate job, has got a newfound fixation called gaming. Zapak Games is what she is found doing most of the times. "My kids tell me that this is no sabbatical. In fact from spending endless hours in front of the computer in the office, I spend time playing games. It sometimes sounds so funny." Word Search, Knight and Squire Finish, Zig Zag and Farmville are her games. "I would see my son shouting and cheering his teams when he plays online." She laughs, "I do the same thing now."

The research also shows that adults who grew up with computer games are more likely to be inclined to them. And if you didn't know…gaming is a good stress buster too! Shailja Kaushal, working with a corporate house as assistant manager, played Crossword once while on a short break from work. Rest as they say is history! "I keep exploring new games. Some are just fun, while others are real mind games. This is better than whiling away time in thinking about what to do." What good is gaming? Well, the lady says her vocabulary has increased manifold!

[email protected]

Fourth Gear
4G technology is set to speed up surfing experience
Amitpal Singh Grewal

Technology is always out to improve our lives - whether making it more convenient, entertaining or ensuring that individuals are more connected to one another.

And with the 4G wireless Internet connections, people will be able to access the World Wide Web and its vast resources from anywhere through smart phones or laptops. Earlier, the 3G wireless Internet networks provided smart phone users with a reliable, though slower, Internet connection. However, 4G networks will enable users to access high-speed wireless data from virtually anywhere. Now, in addition to checking mails, you can watch entire television shows and movies without a single slip or skip, download large files, play online games, or even video chat. All this was not possible with the 3G wireless Internet connections.

The 4G connections are much faster, offer better quality and reliable signal. Fourth generation connections would be nearly four times faster than their predecessors; one can easily download an entire movie in mere minutes, instead of hours. With fourth generation connections, one can jump from one programme or page to the next without skipping a beat. It offers streaming television shows with picture clarity that one can only expect from a satellite provider, something 3G connections can never deliver.

In addition, the connection is more secure and one doesn't have to worry about hackers getting access to personal files and information. Another big advantage of 4G is the huge coverage area that it can service. Instead of providing Internet connection to a single household, building or even a city block, fourth generation signals can reach across the entire length of cities.

[email protected]

Beyond bathroom

Grohe from Germany, a leading brand in sanitary fittings, adds a new line, BauClassic, to its Baulines collection in India. This collection personifies the most influential style of Bauhaus, a cultural movement that led to modernism in the famous German architectures and designs. Grohe Baulines offers five ranges to choose from - BauEdge, BauCurve, BauLoop, BauFlow and BauClassic. The designs range from modern-minimalist to timeless-functional and nostalgic-elegant. The new collection, which specifically caters to the Asian Market, integrates the bold design and high quality material with the latest German manufacturing techniques to bring to you complete bathroom solutions at competitive price points.

The Baulines Collection includes both concealed or exposed fittings for wash basins and bathtubs, single-lever mixers, two-or three-hole faucets, head showers, hand showers or shower systems - the varied Baulines ranges offer matching products for all bathroom styles.

The Baulines collection is loaded with features that make bathing a more satisfying experience. What they all have in common is the perfect blend of outstanding design, carefully selected materials and advanced German engineering plus a uniquely attractive price. And as we know, the best things must last longer; therefore, all products are fully backed by a ten year warranty from GROHE as an expression of the manufacturer's unconditional belief in these exciting faucets and fittings. — TNS

Through the lens

An out the box thought by a researcher made him use webcams for the purpose of improving fluency in children.

Tmothy Frey assistant professor of special education, counselling and student affairs along with two students of Kansas State University undertook the project, which aimed at improving fluency and comprehension.

The researchers used webcams, instead of audio recorders, to help students improve reading fluency because with webcams the students could both see and hear themselves read, which the researchers called the "I can see me" procedure.

"With testing and assessments, we know that generally the earlier you can catch things and find potential problems, the better off a student will be. This really can help students pick up on error patterns and help prevent them from having further reading problems," said Frey.

The research actively involved the students. During designated reading time in class, the students went to the computers and read a selected reading sample in front of the webcams. Afterward, they could watch the video and pick out any mistakes.

"The video really seemed to change how students were engaged. They didn't just hear themselves read anymore, but they could see themselves reading, which they really liked," The researchers presented their project at the conference for the International Society for Technology in Education. — ANI


The Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik has conferred community service and vocational awards at an impressive function on Sunday evening. Those honoured included Prakash Chand Jain, in-charge of the Chandigarh branch of Pingalwara; Shamsher Singh and his wife Rajinder Kaur, who are running a home for the mentally and physically challenged, orphans and destitutes at village Padiala; Gulzar Singh, a postman in Sector 21; Mani Bahadur and Murari Lal, who have rendered excellent service in the fields in which they are involved.

Says Sneh Popli, president, Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik, "We feel proud in honouring these members of the community who have shown their commitment and compassion towards society and have achieved excellence in their chosen field."


Haute pick

Behind the camera

The Fuji FinePix X100 is a retro rangefinder like digital camera.

The X100 shoots 12.3 mega pixels images with advance photo system- classic sensor with a Fujinon 23mm, f/2 prime lens, permanently mounted on the X100. This is not an interchangeable lens camera.

Aside from the new design, Fujifilm have come up with a new hybrid viewfinder on the FinePix X100 that combines the window-type bright frame optical viewfinder found in high-end film cameras.

Users will be able to switch between optical and electronic viewfinder images with simple one-touch control. You'll also get a 2.8-inch display on the back. The FinePix X100 has the ability to shoot HD movies and can shoot up to 5 frames/sec, which makes it quite a capable everyday action camera. Shutter speed and exposure compensation are handled via large knobs and not menu driven buttons. The amount of detail is quite impressive, including the screw-in remote cable slot in the middle of the shutter button, the Fuji X100 offers auto-focusing via contrast-detect like most DSLRs. The ISO ranges between 200 to 6400 with ISO 100 and 12,800-25,600 available as expansion settings. It has is a standard hot shoe which makes it favourable for manual flash applications as well. Physical dimensions of 127(W) × 75(H) × 54(D) mm makes it quit small so you can easily carry it around comfortable.

Happily settled

Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan says he has no plans to uproot himself to go and work in Hollywood movies.

"Not really. I think they are very serious about how they make movies. You have to go and set up a base, start from the scratch about how to speak, how to act. You have to struggle and start all over again," Saif said.

"I am quite happy where I am today and not try to uproot myself by working in Hollywood. I would rather concentrate more and more on being successful in my own field," he added.

The 40-year-old was at Gurgaon to participate in the celebrations of Taj Enlighten Film Society, which has been validated as India's largest film society by the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI).

Saif is currently busy producing his home production Agent Vinod and wishes to make international style movies in future.

"I'd like to make films like Omkara, Parineeta. We are actually meeting up people in Mumbai to bring in new talent and make international style of cinema. I'll try to make films that are not only successful in monetary terms but also give us creative satisfaction," he said. — IANS

Too busy for Oscar

Hugh Jackman Hollywood hunk Hugh Jackman has turned down the opportunity to host next year's Oscar ceremony as he is too busy shooting.

The X-Men star hosted the Oscars in 2009 and was asked to anchor the 2010 edition, but could not.

The Australian actor is currently working for X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2, making him unavailable for the gala event.

The movie will be shot in both New York and Tokyo.

The 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on 27 February next year to honour the best talent in contemporary cinema. — PTI


An invite to the Prime Minister's private dinner for the US first couple was an honour enough, but when President Barack Obama praised his work, Aamir Khan was on cloud nine.

The star, who was invited to the dinner by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his 7, Race Course Road residence, was cornered by the waiting media persons as soon as the do got over at around 10 pm on Sunday.

"President Obama said he has heard a lot about my work and my films," said Aamir, who was clad in a cream coloured kurta pyjama.

"It (the dinner) was an opportunity to meet big personalities. I am a big fan of Manmohan-ji and I am happy that he called me up," he told the journalists.

Aamir, 45, also praised the dinner platter and revealed that First Lady Michelle Obama had told him she danced to his title number from Rang De Basanti.

Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar and his actress-activist wife Shabana Azmi were also invited to the grand feast. — IANS

Learning experience

Paula Abdul Grammy winner Paula Abdul (American Idol) did not know till November four what was Diwali, most popular festival of one billion Hindus of the world and also of Sikhs and Jains. One follower tweeted her on November four: "Tomorrow is Indian Festival Diwali". Abdul re-tweeted: "what's Diwali? sounds cool....." Her followers replied: "Festival of Lights", to which she sent the re-tweet-"thank you! sending you love & *hugs* for that!"

Eminent Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), stressed that since Hollywood and other entertainment industry had worldwide reach and affected the lives of many around the globe, Hollywood/entertainment bigwigs/celebrities should become familiar with at least basics of world religions to understand the feelings of their audiences better.Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said if Abdul or other entertainment celebrities wanted to explore Hinduism, he or other Hindu scholars would be glad to assist. Paula Julie Abdul, 48, is an American TV personality-singer-dancer-actor. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolises the victory of good over evil. Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. — ANI

What a Girl Doesn't Want

Pop star Christina Aguilera, who filed for divorce from her husband last month, seems to have moved onto a new relationship.The What a Girl Wants hitmaker was spotted leaving a double dinner date hiding a male friend under a blanket in the car.The 29-year-old singer was at the SoHo House in Hollywood on Friday with the mystery man and her close friend Nicole Richie, who was with her rocker fiance Joel Madden.

The hidden male was named online as Matthew D Rutler, a set assistant from the production of Burlesque, after first been misidentified as Joel's twin brother Benji.Rutler has worked on a series of films, and also acts as a guitarist for the Nate Mott Band, according to his listing on IMDb.He met Aguilera on the set of her new movie Burlesque, in which she plays a small town girl learning the ropes at a Burlesque lounge. Since Aguilera and record producer Jordan Bratman announced their split, the pair have remained silent on the reasons behind the break-up. — PTI

Dance trauma

Nicole Kidman Hollywood beauty Nicole Kidman spent two years recovering from a knee injury after overdoing a dance scene in her romantic musical Moulin Rouge. The star got exhausted during an early morning dance sequence routine for the film and tore a cartilage due to which she had to limp throughout the rest of the movie and beyond. "It was that dancing mentality, where you keep dancing. It was, like, 3am, and I was thinking, 'I'm so tired and I probably shouldn't do another one (scene) in these heels, but yeah, OK, one more take, this will be it.' And I just kind of fell and tore my knee up. It was bad because it (lasted) the next couple of years," said the 43-year-old actor. Moulin Rouge is a 2001 romantic musical film directed by Baz Luhrmann and revolves around the romance between an English poet who falls in love with the terminally-ill star of the Moulin Rouge. — PTI

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