SALUTE to courage
Mahesh Bhatt's play The Last Salute, based on Iraqi journalist Muntadhar-al-Zaidi's book The Last Salute to President George Bush, created a sensation even before it was staged
Parbina Rashid

 Imran Zahid A city gripped with Anna Hazare fever, a hard-hitting play called The Last Salute, a man like Mahesh Bhatt, and a bunch of mediapersons looking for sensational bytes—perfect ingredients for the recipe of disaster!

The press conference at JW Marriot on Thursday, where Bhatt was promoting his play The Last Salute along with his lead actor Imran Zahid, saw one such disaster being averted, thanks to Bhatt's sound logic, a booming voice and years of experience of handling such situations.

First things first. The play Bhatt brings to the city is based on Iraqi journalist Muntadhar-al-Zaidi's book The Last Salute to President George Bush, and explores the facts of gulf crisis and the US intervention. The thrust area is the Bush-Zaidi encounter.

Opening the discussion with the theme, Bhatt tells us why the play is so close to his heart. "I had turned down an invitation from Washington DC in 2003 as a protest against the terror they had unleashed on millions of people in the name of maintaining world peace. So when I read Zaidi's book, I could connect with him. He was a desperate man who wanted to get his voice heard in the world community and he knew what was coming to him when he decided to hurl that shoe at Bush. To me all art form is built on emotion of revolt and he is one fine example."

But why the Iraqi journalist only when we have examples of reporters hurling shoes at politicians in our own country, comes the question from one of the journalists as soon as the question-answer round begins. To make matter worse the question is accompanied by a whiplash comment, 'Is Bhatt equally sympathetic towards the Sikh cause?'

"You are naïve if you are equating Zaidi's action with that of the reporter who hurled a shoe at Chidambaram. I am committed to the Sikh cause but as a creative person I have my preferences. In this case I found dramatic elements in Zaidi's life and a super-villain in Bush," comes the reply.

If his comment peeved majority of the crowd present there, then many found his comment on Anna Hazare unpalatable too. "I am against corruption and I oppose the government action of arresting Hazare, but I am against the Lokpal Bill also. It's time to realise that between the two polarized camps, the government and Hazare, there are some alternative views." But he is hopeful that such alternative views will be heard because India happens to be one liberal country where plays like The Last Salute are allowed to be staged.

But then why The Last Salute has been made into a play instead of a film, which is his forte? "Bollywood is catering to under-25 crowd, which is looking for pure entertainment. Making a film is an expensive affair and to make a film on Iraq, which is so region-specific, will find only a few takers," he answers.

And as for his protégé Imran, he is happy playing the role of Zaidi. "I have been in touch with Zaidi for a long time now, understanding his psyche, knowing him as a person. I finally met him in May when he came to watch the play in Delhi. It was the great moment for me. It was after all, a challenge to play Zaidi in front of Zaidi."

And this on-stage rebel act is only honing his skill to play another rebel Chandra Shekhar in Bhatt's forthcoming film Chandu, based on the slain student leader of Jawaharlal Nehru University. A true blue rebel in the making, shall we say!

Under the lens’ eye
On World Photography Day, here's a sneak peek into the photography scene at different schools of Chandigarh
Vasudha Gupta

Bhavan Vidyalaya-27
Bhavan Vidyalaya-27

They are found scattered all over the house and now on the computers. Photographs, memories etched in paper are the representations of all joys of the family, friends, wedding and parties. As the world celebrates Photography Day, we find out more about the photography scene in different schools of Chandigarh.

Started in 1994, with only five students enrolled in the photography club, today, Vivek High School has over 120 students who participate in the club activities. "We have seen the students grow to the current age of digital cameras," shares Navneet Saxena, the popular incharge of the club. Covering a fairly wide area in photography, the experiences go beyond sharing the foundations. "We have people who come in and share their work with the students to educate them on photography," he says. Considered an integral part of the school curriculum, Navneet calls exhibitions a culmination of hard work. With 18 years behind him, instead of teaching kids, Navneet plans to take his students abroad for a workshop. "We are hopeful that step will bring a positive change in the photography skills," he smiles.

For St John's High School, the club is not just an activity but a serious subject. Now with 60 boys, the club witnesses the participation of students from class VI -XI. On the forefront since the past six years, students are given extensive knowledge on camera handling. "We try to share information on clicking themes. We cover landscapes, buildings and product photography," shares Michelangelo Francis, teacher. St John's happens to be the only school which holds professional exhibitions, where students are taught to mount and display their work. "The best part is that several old boys also participate in club activities," Michel shares.

At Bhawan Vidyalaya, running an active photo hobby class, Neera Puri, the activity incharge, shares, "The students actively cover the school functions and single-handedly look after all the photographs for the school magazine," she shares. The kids being well-informed has its own benefits! "Since they have a whole lot available to themselves, we make the best efforts to expose their creativity," she shares. Neera is soon hoping to hold an exhibition for her students.

One school that has made is far in terms of promoting talent is DAV 15. Rakesh Sachdev, principal of the school, shares the story of Hardik Trehan, one such student who moved to film-making after his passion in photography. "Our students regularly go on field trips and maintain files of their photographs," she shares. Making a point to motivate the students, photography as a hobby is a part of fine arts classes for the students of XI and XII. The best part being the inclination of students to capture nature. "Children must realise their potential and I am glad that students from our school make photography their career."

So, are you ready to catch life in motion? 

Makeover BRIDE!
Brides today do not shy away from experimenting and are becoming more and more daring with their choice of colour and attire
Minna Zutshi

The big, fat Punjabi weddings are getting jazzier. And brides are in the experimental mode. The traditional image of a coy bride, her head covered demurely with yards of saree, walking with a respectable-stoop is in for a change!

The coyness has given way to a 'come-hither' look. The slouch is now a graceful poise that's strikingly sensuous. The bride no longer likes to restrict herself to bright reds. She's willing to experiment with pastels and even white, at least for ladies' sangeet and mehndi functions. Yet the regal look is very much in. Sounds too confusing? Well, here's a lowdown on the bridal finery:

Regal Allure

If the bride is big on tradition, she can very well stick to flowing lehngas in hot pinks and emerald greens. Corsets with multi-hued dupattas add to the charm. "Zardosi work is in. In my collection, I like to mix and match zardosi with swarovski," says Delhi-based fashion designer Amit Talwar, who's in Ludhiana for the 'Wedding Asia' show.

Vintage wear

For occasions like mehndi and reception, the bride can be creative with cuts. A blend of the vintage and the traditional, coupled with a modern silhouette, looks lovely. For ladies' sangeet, she can go classy with long Anarkali shirts. To retain the chic look, these can be teamed up with cigarette pants or skirts.

Sheer beauty

Fabrics like organza, net and silks have a royal feel to them. To get that soft, feminine look that's glamorous yet sophisticated, a touch of layering works well. "An organza panel over a free-flowing voluminous net, and a silk bodice with front-open sheer organza lower half with silk pants hinting out - the bride can look every inch a glamour queen," says Ashie from the Parul-Ashie Collections.

"The combination of embroideries like appliqué and silk zardosi look 
beautiful,” he adds. 

Umrao Jaan meets Lady Gaga …

The first day of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2011 brought to the table an eclectic mix of paparazzi culture and a unification of Umrao Jaan and Lady Gaga at a dual show presented by designers Jatin Varma and Payal Singhal.

(Left) Floral Fantasy: A model displays the creation of Rina Dhaka on the first day of Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. (Right) Creating waves: A model displays the creation of designer Jatin Verma.— PTI Photo

The first segment of the show saw models walking down the ramp in Varma's collection called Paparazzi, inspired by the glamour and buzz of red carpet events.

"My collection was Paparazzi, a red carpet collection meant to bring lots of glamour on the ramp which gives a treat to the paparazzi all over. When I am doing red carpet, I have to keep in mind that lots of glamour is involved in it so I used lots of silk chiffons, acetates to bring it out," Varma told reporters after the show.

The line included floor hugging gowns, edgy dresses, trousers, skirts and tops. It was embellished with both structured, fitted pieces and those with element of flare in dull gold.

The second segment offered designs by Payal Singhal. Her collection, which was an amalgamation of Umrao Jaan and Lady Gaga, presented garments that boasted of a contrasting mixture of Indian costumes of bygone era and futuristic rock 'n' roll world of stage dressing.

"I wanted to show old style in the modern context. It's an endeavour to portray the elegance of Umrao Jaan in the modern pop world of stage dressing," said Singhal. The collection comprised of flowing translucent anarkalis and lehenga's juxtaposed with structured silhouettes in tulle, brocade and new-age fabrics in metallics, pale blues, cream and blush rose ensconced in filigree, resham and zardosi. The show also had celeb glamour attached to it with the presence of actors Karisma Kapoor, who was one of the first row attendees.


Debut with a bang

Indo-Canadian artiste Raghav Mathur had a successful debut album Storyteller (2003) with hit songs like Let's Work It Out, Can't Get Enough and Angel Eyes that were popular in India and the UK.After his second album Identity (2009), his third album The Phoenix was recently released. 

Now Raghav is all set for his Bollywood debut by recording the title track of the upcoming movie Hum Tum Shabana, called Hey Na Shabana, a hybrid of eastern and western vocals. With music by FALTU directors Sachin Jigar, the soundtrack is reportedly the next big hit of this year, with music label T-Series planning some stellar promotions for the same!

Win some, lose some

Aamir Khan is back from his holiday from Coonoor and Bali. And now he will resume shooting for Reema Kagti's film which also has Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji. Our source informs us that 10 days are left for shooting to complete.And after that he will start preparing for Dhoom 3 in which he has to lose weight. Aamir Khan has hired fitness trainer who will help him in toning his body.— HRM 

Films to fitness

Post the box office bonanza of Double Dhamaal, actor Ashish Chowdhry was heavily involved in his entrepreneurial security agency venture. But looks like the success of one business isn't enough for him, as sources close to him are talking about his plans of opening an exclusive fitness project very soon! Ashish, who is one of the fittest actors, has been encouraged to start his own business as he has a vast knowledge of fitness.

The actor who has helped many people over the years with their bodies, and is known for his workable tips, is reportedly working on a 360 degree venture that will include a luxurious gymnasium, spa and a holistic body centre, say sources! The actor is also in talks with his closest B-Town buddies for other innovative ideas as well.

Fashion's blue eyed boy

Show stopper: Rohit Bal 

How does one describe a show so magnificent in a few hundred words? Adjectives are not enough when Rohit Bal, the master of Haute Couture chic presents a show.

Clearly the audience has no option but to applaud every entry, for each ensemble is a work of art that should be preserved and savoured by generations of fashion devotees.

Rohit Bal opened the Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011 season with his magnificent Shaanti collection at the off-site Tote Show in front of a deliriously happy audience, which was left breathless by the beauty of his creations.

In love with Kashmir

Valley calling: Udita Goswami

Actor Udita Goswami was in Kashmir for a corporate event but she fell in love with the valley and decided to stay for a little more time and enjoy the place, "Dal Lake and the shikharas were so beautiful.

I also saw the Chashm-e-Shahi gardens and the Shankaracharya temple," says Udita.

Coming soon

Post hiatus: Aftab Shivdasani 

Aftab Shivdasani, who was not seen in films for quite a long time, has been signed by Vikram Bhatt for the sequel of 1920.



Astro turf 
P Khurrana

ARIES: The Magician casts smiles on health. Useful day for discussing long term plans. A telephone call from a friend gives pleasure in the evening. A wealth of opportunity and ideas could keep you busy all day. Tarot message: Meet experienced people. Lucky colour: Crimson. Magic number: 37.

TAURUS: The Queen of Swords reveals that new love attractions are likely to be serious. Businessmen: spend spare time in the company of your loved ones. While shopping, stick to your budget. Tarot message: Make things happen out of the most unlikely circumstances. Lucky colour: Brown. Magic number: 56.

GEMINI: A day of mixed luck. Your patient stand will begin paying dividends. Any projects connected with study, travel and cultural pursuits will be very satisfying. You have the ability to work hard and overcome the obstacles in your path. Tarot message: Avoid ending all the deadlocks at one go. Lucky colour: Ebony. Magic number: 25

CANCER: You may find the day quite tiring. Businessmen: avoid making any important business move. Don't rely on anybody else to help you achieve your goals. Legal matters could take an expected turn. Tarot message: Let trivial problems not haunt you. Lucky colour: Deep red. Magic number: 28

LEO: Avoid speculation. Early morning surprises can turn into afternoon achievements. The need for balance between work and pleasure is paramount. Those trying to juggle work and family should take some time out for themselves. Tarot message: Don't trust others. Lucky colour: Forest green. Magic number: 32.

VIRGO: Put more effort into completing unfinished work. Businessmen: it is advisable not to take new starts. Your health could be worrying you a little. An interest in alternative lifestyles and travel to interesting places is on the cards. Tarot message: Don't do anything at the cost of health. Lucky colour: Cherry red. Magic number: 43.

LIBRA: An improvement in your fortune is indicated. Today you are likely to come into contact with people who have a different take on your situation. Emotional contact with a friend could be informative. Tarot message: Lack of persistence can be disastrous in business matters. Lucky colour: White. Magic number: 47.

SCORPIO: Try to reduce the amount of cash you spend on groceries. Do not hold back anything from your boss. Take some advice on jointly held accounts. Tarot message: Don't waste an opportunity by being rash or impulsive. Lucky colour: Turquoise. Magic number: 44.

SAGITTARIUS: Check all figures related to jointly held funds. Your friends support you strongly. A new project can engage your attention single-mindedly. A romantic and passionate attraction might land you in danger. Tarot message: Concentrate on your future. Lucky color: Fiery red. Magic number: 28.

CAPRICORN: A hazardous day for speculation. Be more discriminating in the choice of your company. Pace yourself, since your energy levels can be low. Take some time out for meditation. Retire to bed early tonight. Tarot message: Time will heal all pains and wounds. Lucky colour: Lotus pink. Magic number: 33.

AQUARIUS: Avoid careless spending. Avoid delegating responsibilities. Problems can be resolved without any major stress. While you sit at home and worry about your situation, the phone might ring and somebody will offer you a solution. Tarot message: Be positive. Lucky colour: Peacock blue. Magic number: 36.

PISCES: Good day for negotiating contracts. Seek publicity for business plans. You are unlikely to get much chance to relax this evening. You may feel restricted by your family circumstances. Tarot message: Do not be in the rush to spend extravagantly. Lucky colour: Silver grey.Magic number: 54.

Chatter box

Metti Oli delayed

Late start: Anjali Abrol

Buzz about UTV’s next big project on Sony TV— remake of the popular Tamil show Metti Oli—is that it has been delayed.

The show that came into news for hitting Sony had Eijaz Khan and Anjali Abrol as leads, but now we hear that due to some issues in the production house the show is on hold. 

Bigg Boss 5 gets more stars

Bigg Approach: Karan Singh Grover

Bigg Boss Season 5 is indeed gearing up for a bigger season and bringing more controversial people on board. The latest one to be approached is Karan Singh Grover, but as he is shooting for his film with former Miss World Diana Hayden in Bangkok, so he hasn’t reverted. Other people who have been approached are Mike Tyson, Nandini Singh, while Navjot Singh Sidhu, Divyendu Sharma aka Liquid of Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Poonam Pandey and Kratika Sengar have signed on for the show. 

More trouble for Pavitra Rishta

Zee’s Pavitra Rishta seems to be heading for a major overhaul as after the leads - Archana and Manav aka Ankita Lokhande and Sushant Singh Rajput — plan to quit the show due to the 18-year leap planned in the show. Now, Satish aka Anurag Sharma too has decided to quit Pavitra Rishta. Sources claim that the actor has already informed Balaji about his decision. The show is all set to take another leap in the next two months and Anurag does not want to play an old man in the show!

Love rings for Preeto-Rajbeer! 

Playing cupid: Ankita Sharma

In Imagine’s Sawaare Sabke Sapne – Preeto, the lead couple who are attracted to each other but get stuck with silly fights and arguments, will get opportunities to come closer. While Preeto (Ankita Sharma) and Rajbeer (Aditya Redij) will try to help their friends get married, which broke off due to a family issue, they will realise the good qualities of each other. 

Marriage blues

Sameer Dharmadhikari’s entry in Zee’s Yahaaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli will bring dramatic twists in this tale. He will play a shrewd business tycoon Raj Singhania, will buy Swarna Bhavan and help Karan and Abha clear their debt. However, Raj will allow them to stay in the Bhavan only on one condition. He will ask Karan to marry Koyal.

A dramatic affair

Twist & turn: Rubina Dilaik and Avinash Sachdev 

The maha episode of Zee TV’s Chhoti Bahu will be a dramatic affair with the wedding of Radhika (Rubina Dilaik) and Dev (Avinash Sachdev).

Yet the dual celebration of wedding and Dev becoming Raj Purohit will be tarnished when the pandit will claim that Radhika can’t be his wife as she was married to Rohan (Saurav Chakrabarti). Barkha (Benaf Dadachanji) will step forward and marry Dev in an attempt to help Radhika.

Family & business

Building passions: Rati Pandey

Television actress Rati Pandey, who shot to fame with her bubbly role of Nupur Bhushan in Star One's iconic college show Miley Jab Hum Tum, is busy spending time with her family members as of now. She is following up on her passion - construction business. Here is Rati talking about her passion, her physiotherapy and more.

How is your physiotherapy treatment going on?

Pretty well; my doctors have told me to exercise and they have prescribed medicines. They have suggested surgery, but that would mean I will be bed-ridden for over two months. So, for now I am just concentrating on medication.

What are you passionate about apart from acting?

Apart from acting, I am passionate about starting my own business, and if not, then I would like to help my family members in our business. My brother and I had dreamt of opening a hotel in Patna, but that has been put on hold and instead we have started a construction business in my hometown. We have been handling that and now looking forward to expanding our business in Mumbai as well.

Now that you have ventured into business, are you planning to quit acting?

If I get typical roles then I might not get interested, but if I get challenging roles that I haven't done or if I get good travel-based shows, then I would love to do them. As of now, I haven't thought about quitting acting.

What's keeping you busy these days?

I am spending time with my mother, who has come from Patna. She is pampering me a lot by making delicious food. We went shopping too. I am so much into shopping that if I get bored I shop online!


The year ahead
Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is August 19...

Your birthday on the August 19 gives a greater will power and self-confidence, and very often an original approach; but with this comes a somewhat self-centered approach to life that may conflict with some of the other influences in your life. A negative 1 is apt to dominate situations and people; home, spouse, family and business. Emotions aren't strong in this nature. If you possess an excess of 1 energy, you may, at times, be boastful and egotistic. You must avoid being too critical and impatient.

Business: Financial issues burst your bubble, but your attitude helps you deal with them perfectly. You may need to call in a few favours, though. Career: Many important opportunities are in store for you. You could run into problems due to forgetfulness at work so be careful. Young, inexperienced people will have to ask for advice. Education: Too often you have either shown up too late or departed sooner than you should have done. Try acting opposite to what you feel. Family: Spending time at home gives you tremendous pleasure so try to work from home. Remain calm or risk a clash, especially with a Sagittarius, Capricorn, Scorpio and Taurus people.

Finance: A beneficial phase begins bringing in huge monetary rewards. Friendship: A pushy relative may try to work his or her way into your guest room. Be polite but firm in your refusal.

Health: Do not neglect your regular exercise schedule. It is necessary to devote some time to keep your body in shape. Love: Being able to operate in comfortable surroundings makes you far more productive. Your place is so beautiful and comfortable that people are always lobbying for invitations. Travel: Check all your documents ,contact numbers, bank accounts, ATM cads, et al before leaving the country to avoid problems. Mood: Slightly 'pushy' at times. Compatible signs: Aquarius, Pisces, Leo. Lucky colors: Silver, Red. Lucky days: Thursdays and Sundays for this year. Lucky numbers: 14, 21, 22, 39. Lucky flower: Rose. Lucky gemstone: Ruby.

Nandana Sen (August19 , 1970 ,Calcutta) is daughter of Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen and Bengali writer Nabanita Dev Sen. She spent her childhood in India and the USA.

Sen started her career with the movie The Doll. In 2008 she appeared in the British television series, Sharpe. She will experience a chequered career.

New releases

Not A Love Story

Producers: Sunil Bohra and Shailesh R. Singh

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

has revealed a mastery over a variety of cinematic genres. He has to his credit a film on naxalites Rakta Charita. After this film he is ready to take centrestage with Not A Love Story a film based on the Neeraj Grover murder case. The film revolves around the life of an aspiring actor who bumps into a youngman. Ram Gopal Varma has claimed that the film is simply his version of the famous Neeraj Grover case. The film stars Deepak Dobriyal as Emile Jerome and Mahie Gill as Maria Susairaj. Not A Love Story, a drama takes a close look at Neeraj Grover's murder case.

Chatur Singh Two Star

Producer: Mohammed Aslam

Director: Ajay Chandok

Chatur Singh Two Star, finally hits the theatres today . Sanjay Dutt is back in action with this film which has a baseline - 'he is on a mission' — to destroy himself. Sanjay Dutt plays a bumbling cop. The movie also has Suresh Menon as Dutt's right-hand man. Ameesha Patel also plays an important role in this film.

Sahi Dandhe Galat Bande

Producer: Preeti Jhangiani

Director: Parvin Dabas

Actor Preeti Jhangiani turns producer with this film. The film is a blend of action, comedy and emotion. It stars Parvin Dabas, Ashish Nayyar, Vansh Bhardwaj, Kuldip Ruhil in the lead roles. The gang comprising of four friends are given a lucrative job that will make all their dreams true. But to achieve the same they have to go against their consciences.

— Dharam Pal

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