NGO Saathi, formed by students of Carmel Convent, supported by Raffles Millennium International, Chandigarh, is organising the Grand Charity Rock Fest
Jasmine Singh

The good thing about ‘change’ is that you don’t have to wait for ages to bring it about—the minute you decide you need to turn things around, you have done it! And for the same reason, when NGO Saathi, formed by students of Carmel Convent, supported by Raffles Millennium International, Chandigarh, decided to bring about some difference in the lives of underprivileged students associated with Saathi in this region, they didn’t have to ponder for long.

The answer was as simple as organising the Grand Charity Rock Fest with top young rock bands performing in front of the audience. The ‘change’ was kickstarted on Saturday with auditions of various rock bands in the city. The money raised through (they are aiming at Rs 5 lakhs) the event will be used to secure a better future for underprivileged students.

Albeit we can’t solve all the problems of the world, this shouldn’t deter us from making a beginning. We pop this question to the youngsters; enthusiastically going through the audition drill on ‘charity’, something known to begin at home.

Ankit from Take 3 is excited about the collaborative initiative of Saathi and RMI because he wants to be a part of something that can make a difference to someone’s life. “I don’t remember anything that you can highlight,” he adds with a puckish grin. “I lend money to friends off and on. Performing at this event might be a step towards it.” On the other hand, Sushant from the band Fused has many things to list. “Nothing earth-shattering,” he laughs. He shifts gears on how the youth can make a difference if they channelise their energies in the right direction. “I have read enough on the addiction called Facebook but can we ignore its usefulness. From the virtual to real, each one of us can contribute to society. There is no big deal about it.”

They rocked, cheered the crowd, as various rock bands climbed the stage for auditions, not bothered about the end result. This isn’t a competition, but a cause and the youth can clearly demarcate between the two. KL Sim, Raffles Millennium International Chandigarh Campus Director, was an excited soul: “We have organised various charity programmes in the past and we will be doing the same in the near future. This is a spirited initiative and music serves the purpose well.”

[email protected]

(The Grand Charity Rock Show will be held on May 28 at the Rock Garden)

Music may keep you young!

It’s known that learning to play musical instruments makes children smart and intelligent. Now, a new study has claimed it may also help people stay young.

Researchers at Northwestern University in the US found that musicians aged 45 to 65 excel in memory and hearing compared to non-musicians.

Lifelong musical training, according to the researchers, appears to confer advantages in at least two important functions known to decline with age — memory and the ability to hear speech in noise.

“Difficulty hearing speech in noise is among the most common complaints of older adults, but age-related hearing loss only partially accounts for this impediment that can lead to social isolation and depression,” says study co-author Nina Kraus.

“It’s a well known fact that adults with virtually the same hearing profile can differ dramatically in their ability to hear speech in noise.”

To find out why, the researchers at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory of Northwestern University tested 18 musicians and 19 non-musicians, aged 45 to 65, for speech in noise, auditory working memory, visual working memory and auditory temporal processing. — PTI

Welcome to PUNJWOOD!
Better scripts, designer costumes, exotic locales, extensive publicity and marketing—Punjabi cinema sure has come of age
Jasmine Singh

A still from The Lion Of Punjab
Locking horns: A still from The Lion Of Punjab

Neither Nostradamus saw it coming, nor did Paul the Octopus from the World Cup football say anything about it; some people in the habit of peeping through cameras, however, made this prediction a year back - in times to come, Punjabi movies would give any Bollywood flick a run for money!

We dismissed it because we never saw anything happen. And then one fine day, newspapers and television flashed news about how a Punjabi flick Dharti was running jam-packed in theatres, when all the dum from the competitor in theatre Dum Maaro Dum was steaming out.

Punjabi cinema has finally made it. Better scripts that have shifted base from rural Punjabi, jat and jatti da badla to the youth of today. Appreciable budgets that facilitate designer costumes, exotic locales, extensive publicity and marketing, you cannot ignore this cinema any more, even if you want!

(Left) Surveen Chawla with Jimmy Shergill (Right) Pooja Tandon and Diljit Dosanjh

(Left) Surveen Chawla with Jimmy Shergill (Right) Pooja Tandon and Diljit Dosanjh

Navaniat Singh, the young director who made Mel Kara De Rabba and Dharti, is also surprised with the overwhelming response Dharti is getting from the audiences, non-Punjabis as well. “Indeed, Punjabi cinema is in for better times. And what has made all the difference is fresh scripts and fresh faces. Dharti is a new experimental genre, very different from the regular run-of-the-mill subjects. We had an interesting star cast like Rahul Dev and Rannvijay. Besides, we went ahead to do a film without the mandatory comedy interjections,” he says.

Thankfully, Punjabi audiences are opening up to the idea of mixing butter chicken with dal ki pithi; they understand that mocktails can be as refreshing as lassi and cinema can do without a jat sitting in his fields discussing the batwaara!

However, we cannot rule out the role of moolah in the whole scene. Actor Jimmy Shergill, who has set a benchmark in Punjabi cinema, doesn’t rate moolah as the only factor that has brought about the change.

“Money follows after the movie is a hit. Change is coming because the industry has realised that a lot more can be done with subjects in Punjab. The change has come with better marketing and selling of the flick,” he adds. “We had an option to make something close to Mel Kara De Rabba, but we opted for a youth based topic for Dharti. We didn’t use any comedy, which is considered essential in Punjabi flicks,” shares Jimmy, who is exploring newer avenues in cinema.

It’s been a long and a tough ride. However, things are looking up. Figures bring out the story of success. In 2000 there was just a single release, Dard Pardesan De which fared poorly in Punjab, but did very well overseas. Sikandra and Jagira were released in 2001. In 2002 Jee Ayan Nu was released, featuring singer-turned-actor Harbhajan Mann and directed by Manmohan Singh. The movie was made on a big budget for ‘Punjwood’ — 90 lakhs, as compared to the more typical 20-50 lakhs. Badla came out in 2003. Asa Nu Maan Watna Da was released in 2004, again with actor Harbhajan Mann and director Manmohan Singh. Later, a significant number of movies were produced in 2008: Yaariyan, Mera Pind, Lakh pardesi hoye, Heaven on earth, and Sat sri akal. In 2009, Jag Jeodeye Deh Mele became a hit, and Tera Mera Ki Ristha with Jimmy Shergill was a hit.

Filmmaker Jaspal Bhatti from Chandigarh recalls the time when he made Mahaul Thek Hai. “We wanted to work with some actors who refused to be associated with Punjabi cinema. Now, actors like Jimmy Shergil have taken up Punjabi cinema.” Jaspal Bhatti attributes the change to risk-taking in movie-making and good budgets. “Movie-makers are taking risks. The whole process of movie-making in Punjab has changed.” There is no harm in hoping that someday we might see Shah Rukh Khan do a jat ja jina maud in a newer style!

[email protected]

Food on TUBE
Various cookery shows on television offer a delectable insight into the making of many exotic dishes
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Sanjeev Kapoor
Sanjeev Kapoor

Cooking at home has gone beyond the humble daal, roti and sabzi, or a more festive kheer or halwa. Our taste buds have gone international, thanks to the dozens of celebrity chefs teaching us how to cook on the television. Welcome Anthony Bordain, Kylie Kwong and Nigella Lawson as our new food gurus. And the address: television channels dedicated to food!

With channels like Zee Khana Khazana, TLC and numerous cooking shows on channels such as Star to NDTV, food is what we fantasise about. It’s a pleasure to watch the beautiful Nigella Lawson dish out her easy-to-make recipes or Anthony Bourdain going around the world tasting food.

We are certainly turning into informed foodies! “These food channels have led to a lot of awareness among people. Now they know more about food than before. They now know how to use ingredients like oregano, basil, thyme et al,” says Nalini, a diet consultant from Sector 4, Panchkula.

She adds, “Women nowadays want to learn more than just ghar ka khanna. Thanks to these cooking shows, people now know about Mexican, Italian and even Mediterranean cuisine. They are now smart eaters.”

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson

While it were shows like Master Chef India that had the Indian audience glued to the TV, shows anchored by Anthony Bourdain, Kylie Kwong and Gordon Ramsay have kept the audiences wanting for more. These ‘imported’ shows have ensured a mass fan following across India.

Says Gurpreet Kaur, a businesswoman from Phase VII, Mohali, “Though I am not loyal to a particular show and not much interested in International cuisine, these cookery shows keep me glued to various channels. It is amazing to see how fast these people can work and what amazing things they can make out of simple ingredients. Can you imagine trying to recreate that in your kitchen?”

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain

Though people want entertainment from cooking shows, Richa Taneja, a homemaker, says, “I liked the show Master Chef India. The speed at which the participants produced various dishes always made me hungry and definitely motivated me to try something new in my kitchen.”

While these shows remain instructive for some, Manorama Sood, an ardent viewer of these channels, says, “I often pick some tips from these shows and include them in my day-to-day cooking. This adds variety to my cooking and these shows also help in decor-matching and innovation.” She adds, “I don’t remember ever reproducing a recipe but I’ve learnt how to present food better, about world cuisine and quick-fix tips.”

Nikhil from Nik Bakers believes that cookery shows make you think about what you’re eating and develops an interest in cooking. “If not about remembering a recipe, these shows definitely inspire and add knowledge to the viewers.” Food is always on our mind, or on our plates, television, books and even the Internet!

Chill Out
Valley of CALM
Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu

Punnetinder Kaur Sidhu (M) with her friends
serene company: Punnetinder Kaur Sidhu (M) with her friends Photo: Harpreet Gill

The intrigue of Spiti Valley has no parallel. Headquartered at Kaza, it combines with Lahaul sub-division from across the 4,590 m-high Kunzum La to form Himachal Pradesh's eastern-most district bordering China. Towering mountain peaks, deep gorges, broad valleys, torrential rivers, high velocity winds and a drastic reduction in the colour green welcome you to a remote land that can only be best described as lunar.

An ancient multi-cultural land, with an inhospitable terrain, that is ravaged by the fury of winters that plunge temperature to bone-chilling figures and turns gushing rivers into solid mass of ice. At the same time, an achingly beautiful landscape dotted by centuries-old monasteries, their walls awash with ancient art, their hushed corridors come alive with the chants of lamas lost in the instruction of Buddhist teachings. People here are simple, largely God-fearing and fun-loving.

Best season: May through October

Distance from Chandigarh via NH22: 490 kms

Route 1 (through Kinnaur): Chandigarh-Shimla-Rampur-Sumdo-Tabo

Route 2 (through Lahaul): Chandigarh-Manali-Gramphu-Kaza-Tabo

After the dramatic ferocity and hostile splendour of the Sutlej Valley in Kinnaur, my friends and I were struck by the apparent gentleness of the Spiti River, as we passed through Himachal. We entered Spiti from Sumdo, the confluence of Parchu and Spiti rivers. But before that we would experience some trepidation while crossing through the notoriously unpredictable, boulder-spewing Malling Nallah. Fortunately, it held. We couldn't have handled another setback; not after the hugely over-rated Lake Nako, an avoidable destination unless concretised ponds masquerading as lakes are your thing. The village, however, is quaint and being maintained so in a somewhat surreal fashion.

We were headed for Tabo, a small town on the banks of Spiti River and the drive was spectacular, heralding, in a sense, what to expect on arrival. Completely divested of commercial activity and shorn of most touristy pretentions, this sleepy, antediluvian place is a traveller's delight. It is home to a thousand year old monastery replete with Buddhist paintings; the mud-walled compound encloses nine temples and chambers for monks and nuns. Above this enclave, burrowed into the cliff-face are a series of caves, once used as dwellings by monks, ancient art still discernable on the walls.

The food was a bit of a damper initially. Following an overdose, albeit a delicious one, of paranthas, rice and daal, chowmein, momos and thupka, we were yearning to sink our teeth into some cheesy bites. You can't blame us, really, for greedily ordering a variety of pastas and pizzas at the first eatery professing to serve them. Bad choice. Even the wine (vinegar?) purchased earlier couldn't soften the unpalatable experience. It was the chance discovery of a bakery, suffused in cinnamon and coffee aromas that finally led us to nirvana.

(Sidhu is a wanderer besides being an author and blogger)

Cannes launch for Heroine

Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar (L) actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bollywood producer Ronnie Screwvala at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar (L) actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bollywood producer Ronnie Screwvala at the Cannes Film Festival. — Reuters

Aishwarya Rai together with acclaimed filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar launched the first look of their upcoming bold and glamourous movie Heroine, which delves into the behind the scenes life of an actress in the Indian film industry, at the 64th Cannes International Film Festival.

“Heroine is a film that the team was very excited about and yes, I have just agreed to come on board," said Aishwarya who will essay a superstar in it.

"Madhur has been speaking to me for many years to collaborate together on a film and I am glad we are finally working together on 'Heroine'. He is the director of multiple award winning films in India and hence, as an actor I'm certainly looking forward to this experience," added the 37-year-old.

Bhandarkar takes his legacy of bringing women-centric issues on celluloid forward with Heroine. Earlier, his critically and commercially acclaimed cinematic offerings Chandni Bar, Page 3, Satta, Corporate and Fashion too focused on various issues related to women.

Based on the life and times of a superstar Bollywood actress, "Heroine" promises to be an entertaining, daring, emotional, shocking, glamorous and scandalous behind the scenes account of showbiz. The film will take a peep into make up rooms and vanity vans to show the politics, the secrets and the lies, the highs of fame and the depths of failure of an actress.

The film is going on the floors next month and Bhandarkar considers it as his "magnum opus" and feels only Aishwarya could fit the role.

"Unveiling the first look here is certain to be an auspicious start to the movie which goes into production mid this year. 'Heroine' is an extremely glamorous yet bold story of the internal journey of a star, which is sure to appeal to audiences across the globe and therefore Aishwarya was a perfect choice for the film - no one could have essayed the role better," said Bhandarkar.

The first poster, unveiled at the ongoing international film extravaganza, looks like a cover of a glossy cine magazine. The focus is one Aishwarya's angelic eyes, and tags like "She's No.1" and "Revealed: Blow by blow account of what happened that night" find place on the poster.

Since being on the cover page of a leading cinema magazine is given so much importance in Bollywood, the poster's idea only goes to show that Bhandarkar will remain true to the essence of his subject, like always.

The film is being produced by UTV Motion Pictures and its head honcho Ronnie Screwvala was also present at the launch. He had earlier worked with Bhandarkar on Fashion, and with Aishwarya on Jodhaa Akbar and Guzaarish.

"Fashion combined the right blend of reality. With Heroine, we take it to the next level and when you see the movie finally you will know it,”he said. — IANS

From Ekta's stable

Ekta Kapoor
Different strokes: Ekta Kapoor

Ekta Kapoor is a prolific television and film producer. Formerly known as the queen of television, she has successfully conquered the film market as well with commercial and hatke films. Her Indie-horror venture, Ragini MMS, has hit theatres. We take a look at some of her hit films.

Love, Sex Aur Dhokha: Directed by Dibakar Banerjee, the documentary-style flick received rave reviews and recovered its investment. It wove together three different stories starring newcomers and could have been a massive success at festivals.

Shootout At Lokhandwala: This movie was based on the life of underworld killer Maya Dolas and his encounter by the police. Vivek Oberoi stole the show with his stellar performance. The movie is fast-paced and entertaining watch.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai: Directed by Milan Luthria, the biopic on Haji Mastan features splendid, career-best performances by Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi. The background score is scintillating and the bygone era has been expertly recreated. This film is an engrossing must-watch.

Kya Kool Hai Hum: Starring Tusshar Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Neha Dhupia and Isha Koppikhar, this film was a sex comedy. The reviews were not encouraging but the film was a hit. India loves films with double-meaning jokes and sexual connotation aplenty.

Shor in The City: This movie traces the lives of three hooligans and an elite NRI businessman in the city of Mumbai. It is not as deep, arty and soulful as it was projected to be. Starring a bunch of newcomers and uncharismatic actors, you could watch this at your own risk.

Dress circle

She was recently named Hollywood's Best Dressed Star but Emma Watson says that she finds dressing up quite a ‘difficult’ task.

The 21-year-old prefers a "less is more" approach but says that it is difficult to look age appropriate.

"I try to dress age-appropriately, which isn't actually that easy when obviously high-end clothing is designed for women who are older than I am," Watson said.

"It's a fine line to tread between looking smart and looking ready to go on a red carpet but also looking like I'm 21. It's quite difficult," she added.

Watson who is the face of Lancome cosmetics has been heavily involved in the advertising campaign.

"It's funny, the guys at Lancome were like, 'You need to be directing, Emma.' I had ideas about every aspect. I'm sure I drove them insane. I was involved in the concept for the ad and the tag line, 'Catch my heart if you can',," she said "The hat was mine, which I bought at a flea market in Paris. — PTI

Dia's perfect man

Dia Mirza
Simple life: Dia Mirza

Dia Mirza the beauty queen is glowing everyday. She has two films in her kitty, which are currently being shot, Alibaug and Shoebite. And she is also working hard for her production house Born Free. We catch the lady in a candid chat.

Keep it simple

I love to keep it simple; let it be anything. Whether I am getting dressed for a party or I am cooking food. I hate to show off. And that's one thing I expect from the person in front of me too. You can easily know whether the person is acting too smart or not.

Similarity works

I don't know if you have noticed or not but we usually make friends with whom we can connect well with, as in people whom we think alike. That doesn't mean one has to be the clone of other but we should agree on the same note. And I guess we should apply the same logic to our life partners as well.

Favorite films

I have always been in love with films. That's something I have grown watching. My favourite films include Zanjeer, Sholay, Chupke Chupke and Silsila. I was a big fan of Hindi films and I am still a fan. I enjoy watching comedy.

Idea of love

When I was younger, my idea of love was very different from what it is now. Red roses, balloons and candlelight dinners worked for me. But it has changed as I have grown up. Now, I know the reality and I look for intelligence and values. What I like in a man, is how well he gels with me, how he handles a situation and what lies beneath the surface. After a certain age, small things start to matter a lot.

Little things really matter

Day by day our expectations grow but there are small things that really matter a lot. Like taking care of your loved one when she needs you, making a sweet gesture when she is busy. Do things like—hold her hair back when she throws up or be there by her side all night when she isn't well. And these aren't just fancy ideas - I've had a very fine gentleman do this for me.

Sense of responsibility

A partner who understands his responsibility is truly worth your while. I have met very few men who would help you lay the table and clear it without being asked to do so. That's a real man for me! — HRM

Bollywood actors get to travel the world shooting for films and endorsements. Some stars talk about their favourite locations.

Sonam Kapoor

I love shooting in Jaipur in Rajasthan. I love the vibes of the place and the culture and history in the air. It is a beautiful place to shoot in.

Shazahn Padamsee

I love shooting in Mumbai as this is my home and I have access to my mother's home-cooked food. I love my mother's food.

Minissha Lamba

I loved shooting in the Maldives. That place is a paradise on earth.

Salman Khan

I love shooting in Mumbai as it's close to my house. And it's easy to shoot here between my own people. Recently when I was shooting for Kick in Madh Island I used to travel by boat everyday and the local people where so sweet to me.

Bipasha Basu

I love shooting in Russia. The weather, the country everything is so chilled out there. I love their buildings and the climate. It's one of the most beautiful places to shoot in and I love it!

Sonu Sood

I came to Mumbai with hopes and dreams of becoming an actor. Naturally, I wanted to go to Filmistan here. The first time I went there, I had to bribe the watchman. I also told him that one day he would salute me like he does to any other actor. That came true two years later. So Filmistan is my favourite location.

Preeti Desai

I was in Mumbai for the shooting of Shor In The City and I went to Goa for a photo-shoot. I like these two locations a lot. — HRM

High spirits
Bin Laden ice tea
Vineet Mishra

Truly Osama!!!

15 ml Absolut Vodka
15 ml Havana Club aged white rum
60 ml Pomegranate Juice
Squeeze fresh Lime Juice
Top it with Sprite and Soda
Garnish: Orange Slice

Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice (except soda and sprite). Strain the mix liquid into a chilled Zombie glass filled with ice and top it up with Sprite and Soda. Garnish with Orange Slice.

Cocktail jokes: A software blog says that soon they will have a recycle bin called Osama Bin.

Leg work
Roopa Pahwa

It’s never too late to start working out for those great-looking, shapely legs. Whether your legs are bulky or thin, you can try out these exercises to tone them up.

LUNGES: This is a good exercise to tone up your legs. This exercise works the quadriceps, hamstrings, rear, hip flexors and calf muscles. To start, stand with your hands on your hips or two dumbbells at your side; feet almost shoulder-width apart and your upper body erect. Then step forward with your right foot while keeping your left foot in place. Keep your back straight and abdominals tight and then lower your body till your left knee is about 3 to 4 inches off the ground. Next, push with your right foot into the floor in an upward and backward motion to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement a few times. Then do the same number of repetitions for your left leg.

SQUATS: This is the ultimate lower-body exercise, as it is designed to work every muscle in your lower body -your thighs, hips and rear. It can also tone your calves, shins and lower back. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, either with your hands on your hips or a barbell (with little or no weight) across your shoulders. Keep your eyes straight ahead, face front to help maintain your balance and tighten the muscles of your abdomen to help keep your body stable. Then lower your hips, bending at the knees until you look as if you're going to sit down in an imaginary chair. Keep your buttocks tense and squat till your thighs are parallel to the ground or go as far down as you can go without falling. Slowly, return to the standing position, keeping your heels flat on the floor and your toes pointed slightly outward or at a comfortable position. For beginners, it is recommend that they do one set (8 to 12 repetitions) to start with and then add a set or two to make it more challenging.

WALL SIT: The wall sit is a bit different from typical squats since you're holding a static position for a certain period of time, rather than working through an entire range of motion. This is a great exercise you can do anywhere without any equipment to help you build endurance in the lower body. To start, stand in front of a wall and lean against it. Slide down until your knees are at about 90-degree angle and hold, keeping the abs contracted for 20-60 seconds. Come back to start and repeat, holding the squat at different angles to work the lower body in different ways.

Do remember that for good results, these exercises should be accompanied by a healthy diet and cardio workouts (to get rid of fat).

(As told to Poonam Bindra)

(Pahwa is a fitness expert and is running a studio in Ludhiana since many years)

Chatter Box
Dream girl, nightmarish project

Vinay Rohraa, aka Baji of Laagi Tujhse Lagan, recently met his dream girl Preity Zinta. Vinay participated in Colors' Guinness World Record-Ab India Todega just to meet his favourite heroine Preity. The actor had to break 100 balloons in 24 seconds to create a new record but he couldn't and managed to burst 100 balloons in 59 seconds. His competitor for this feat was Shashank Vyas, aka Jagya of Balika Vadhu, who lagged behind too. Vinay felt lucky that Preity was supporting him and he still hasn't got over the fact.

Poonam springs another surprise

Poonam Pandey
Field visit: Poonam Pandey

Model Poonam Pandey, best known for her bold announcement of stripping if India wins the World Cup, is all set to surprise the contestants of MTV Crunch with a special visit. Poonam will be visiting space five and space six that have contestants Faizuddin-Santosh and Shweta-Shivank. Interestingly Shweta, had announced that she will pose nude with a python on her body, when the show started. The finale of the show will be aired on Sunday.

Farah's die-hard fan

Farah Khan
Dance Idol: Farah Khan

You might have heard of fans waiting endlessly to catch a glimpse of a superstar but choreographer-filmmaker Farah Khan met a fan who spent three nights on the streets and railway platforms just because he was dying to meet her. This ardent fan, Avinash Sinha, wanted to meet her and audition for the big reality show Just Dance, which is co-judged by Farah, Vaibhavi Merchant and Hrithik Roshan. Avinash hails from Chhattisgarh and waited for three days. — HRM

Moms' pet

Angad Hasija is enjoying the response for his character Shankar in Phulwa. Playing the angry young man in the show has got him rave reviews. And of course, women drooling over him is an added incentive. But he was most surprised when he received calls from five moms of his close friends for his acting. Later, his own mother called from Chandigarh and praised him. Well, these calls and appreciation surely made his day.

Pardes Mein Mila.. to go off air

Imagine's Pardes Mein Mila Koi Apna on Imagine was under the scanner recently and now news is that the show will be axed. The channel has not been very happy with the progression of the show and apparently fixed May 27 as the last date of the show. Kitni Mohabbat Hai and Gunahon Ka Devta too will end but they will stay on till June 3 to be replaced by Ratan Ka Rishta.

Avika’s universe?

Every since she came into the limelight as Anandi in Balika Vadhu, actress Avika Gor had announced that she would one day be Miss Universe. Now India's favourite bahu is working towards her goal. This 13-year-old is back on telly in Sasural Simar Kaa on Colors. Other than her acting assignments, she has enrolled herself in dancing, exercising etc. Good going. — HRM

Saas-bahu to saas-beti

Rupal Patel
Perfect saas: Rupal Patel

A strong presence, a warm personality and a powerhouse of talent, Rupal Patel came into limelight with her super-hit show Saath Nibhaana Saathiya. This NSD graduate cherishes her role, enjoys producing children's theatre and dishing out relationship advice. Check out the real person behind Kokila.

Why is your show so popular?

The audiences are the reason we are number one and I am grateful for the same. As for the show's popularity, I think it is the newness in the saas-bahu relationship shown in the serial. Kokila is righteous and stands up for justice. She never accepts any wrongdoings from anyone--be it her husband, sister-in-law, son, daughter or daughter-in-law.

Who would you credit for Saathiya's success?

Hailing from theatre and being an actor, I say that no show, play or production is one man's job. So, the credit for the success goes to the entire team that has worked hard and continues to do so. I am also thankful to Star channel for a new concept, the producers and writers for creating the characters.

What do your fans tell you?

Fans I meet claim that they just love Koki and that she stands for the truth. Normally, though people always have the choice to do right or wrong, they choose the safer, easier path. Many old ladies have told me that the relationship shown between saas and bahu is unique and real. Both saas and bahu have to put in that kind of efforts to form a close bond. I believe if you really want and try, a bahu can be a beti.

What do you admire and disapprove of in Koki?

I love Koki a lot as she is close to my heart. I enjoy performing her and delving into her psyche. She has no flaws.

Tell us about your plays and company?

I run a theatre group called Panorama Art and conduct workshops for kids. We have been involved in children's theatre for a long time now. We manage to produce three to four plays a year with the participation of over 40-45 kids.

Which TV actors do you admire?

I admire Surekha Sikri who is brilliant as dadisa in Balika Vadhu. I also like Meghna Malik who plays Ammji in Naa Aana Is Des Meri Laado. Both of them are gifted actors. I met Meghna and am proud we belong to NSD.

What does your family think of you as Koki?

I have my dhai kilo ki family with me, my husband and son. My husband Radha Krishna Datta is also from NSD, who runs our production company too. I think we are soulmates. We both manage to balance our work and home with great efficiency. My son is in Class IX and also helps us out. He enjoys being a responsible person in the theatre group managing things.

Who are you close to on the sets?

I am close to Gopi aka Jia and do get along with others on the sets too. But as I am required in most scenes, I try not to interact much. I hope people don't think of me as snooty or arrogant but I don't like losing focus. — HRM

Astro Turf
P Khurrana

ARIES: "Two of Cups" suggests that romance will be on your mind. Independent efforts are unlikely to bring spectacular gains. You cancel a proposed trip to avoid friction tonight. A minor incident can have dramatic effects. Ensure that you will still have creative and satisfying things to do. Make hard decisions. Tarot message: Act righteously and do your duties on time. Lucky colour: Pink. Magic number: 57

TAURUS: Spiritual values surface. Pay more attention to the little jobs. Taxation matters get adjourned. Keep an eye on the behavior of your spouse. Take a reality check. It is easy to maintain a romantic view of daily events. Stop compromising your values. Tarot message: Leave things open-ended for best results. Lucky colour: Golden. Magic number: 65

GEMINI: Social activities accelerate. Co-workers are helpful. Women drivers: take care. A guest/friend may cause disturbance. Professionals: your clientele increases. A love relationship is revitalised. You celebrate as romance flowers into commitment. A marriage proposal is your priority. Look after your tummy. Tarot message: You need to take things slowly. Lucky colour: Red. Magic number: 30

CANCER: 'The King' brings joyous news. Share your interests with your family members. Legal matters come to the fore. Good day to buy vehicle. You need a break. Enjoy your lifestyle and relationships. You will enjoy new interest and opportunities. Promotion matters are favourable. Students: focus on studies & career. Tarot message: Get rid of negative feelings in love. Lucky colour: Crimson. Magic number: 33

LEO: Check your e-mails and appointments. Chances are you will get a message mixed up. Call a friend in need a call. Your care and interest could make all the differences in their decisions and peace of mind. Tarot message: Don't swing away from your path. Lucky colour: White. Magic number: 61.

VIRGO: Update on routine matters. Be alert & responsive. An Aquarian figures prominently. Family life is blissful. Evening time is good to buy ornaments. Group efforts and projects inspire you and introduce you to new and interesting friends. Romance with a friend can become a productive alliance. Tarot message: Don't be too certain about a clearance. Lucky colour: Mauve Magic number: 44

LIBRA: Focus on spirituality & meditation. A journey may get delayed. Avoid a social gathering in the evening. Students: enjoy in the campus. You'll prefer not to share your thoughts or ideas with others. Follow your intuition. Tarot message: Win the war with honesty, not by distorting facts. Lucky colour: Saffron. Magic number: 29

SCORPIO: Work & domestic duty follow a familiar pattern today. You find it difficult to reach an agreement with loved ones. Family members will criticise you. Examinations or tests are stressful. Study hard. Later in the day, peace will return. Someone who was disrespectful toward you may apologise. Tarot message: Delays obstruct your success. Lucky colour: Green. Magic number: 63

SAGITTARIUS: Employment affairs are unsettled. Factory owners: you don't get co-operation from labour. Home and family affairs are enjoyable. This is the time of increased communication or travel with a romantic partner, children or social groups. Tarot message: Leave the past in the past. Lucky colour: Yellow. Magic number: 52

CAPRICORN: Mental work will stimulate. Be cautious. Women: beware of strangers. Fanciful schemes suggested by friends should be gently but firmly rejected. A new romance can bring changes to your home. Tarot message: Handle others carefully don't antagonise anyone. Lucky colour: Purple. Magic number: 36

AQUARIUS: Business matters will not be smooth. Improve your health. Tension builds and tempers can fray. An irritating coworker can push you to your limits. Leave the rigorous pace of life. However, change your normal routine. Tarot message: Don't give up your rights or freedom. Lucky colour: Orange. Magic number: 40

PISCES: It would be wise to keep work and domestic matters distinctly separate. Girls: be at your charming best. A major problem may be the solution in future. Start to clear out the stuff you don't want anymore. Tarot message: You are on the right track don't allow others to interfere your way. Lucky colour: Peach. Magic number: 26

The year ahead
Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is May 15...

This is a fortunate year to make some extra money through some hobby. Monetary position is also likely to improve because of an important payment. Some of you will be buying something expensive for yourself.

It's all about apples and oranges in friendship. They have their life and you have yours. Old pals resurface and new love connections arise from that. Health will remain under duress. There will be lesser physiological disorders but greater mental stress.

You will feel that there is excessive pressure in the office due to an unfavorable boss.

A sudden attraction may be in around the corner. An unexpected change of residence can bring you some excitement in the first quarter of 2012. But it also comes with the kind of uncertainty that you usually don't like.

Madhuri Dixit (May 15, 1967, Mumbai) shares her birthday with you. One of the most beautiful faces of the Indian film industry, she made her debut in Abodh.

After a few minor and supporting roles, she landed the lead female role in the chartbuster Tezaab, which shot her to stardom and for which she received her first Filmfare nomination. She then starred in a number of hits like Ram Lakhan, Parinda, Tridev, Kishen Kanhaiya, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun. In 1999, Madhuri Dixit married Shriram Madhav Nene In 2008, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award. Number six represents Venus the planet of beauty and glamour for which she is known.

She enters her 45th year today. Her planetary dasha (period) is also of Venus under which she is passing through. Venus will keep her ever green like Rekha. The next 15 years belong to Madhuri and she will continue to be part of films and TV shows.

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