Crackling thoughts
The crusade for green Diwali seems to have hit the mark with these celebs from the region
Jasmine Singh

Traditional diyas and ligfhts can lift up your Diwali spirit
Traditional diyas and ligfhts can lift up your Diwali spirit

The lights are beaming bright, the sound of crackers cuts through the serenity, reminding of the festival which is almost here.

Amidst all this festivities, someone looks at the sky through a telescope and finds a thick layer of soot over it. And then they get busy doing something about it. So, unanimously they think that burning crackers could, if not erase, at least not add to the existing layer. And here they are asking you to promote and opt for pollution-free Diwali.

Let the spirit of Diwali warm your heart but when it comes to crackers, say no. Many celebrities are asking people on social networking sites to say no to crackers. Now, if you think what they are saying makes sense, you can do what they are doing.

Choose gifts over crackers
Navjit Buttar, director

As much as I love to burst crackers with my friends, looking at what we are doing to our environment, I don't want to add to it. Instead of spending money on crackers, I am going to buy gifts for the relatives I haven't met in a long time. I have actually bought electric diyas and candles. This time I am pledging a pollution-free Diwali and advocating the same for my friends.

Don't burn money
Dakssh Ajit Singh, actor

What I don't like about crackers is the amount of money that we burn to buy those. It is actually like throwing hard- earned money into fire. And, not to forget the asthma and other problems that the smoke creates. I wish we had crackers that were safe or maybe everyone could gather at one place, see the fireworks and go back home and light candles...that's it.

Spread happiness, not pollution
Atharv Baluja, director and scriptwriter

Each Diwali, the first thought that comes to my mind is about the street dogs. Crackers play havoc on them. The amount of pollution that they manage to create in one single day is unbelievable. Next day it is virtually impossible to breathe. Instead of buying crackers, go for electric diyas or donate money so that it lights the hearts of others.

Find better options

The only reason that I advocate a pollution-free Diwali is because of my little daughter. I want her to enjoy the festival and not breathe poisonous oxygen. I think we should all pledge for a Diwali without crackers. I understand, Diwali is all about bursting crackers, then why don't we look for better options? Cracker making industries should come up with better options.

Cut down on crackers

I love the sight of crackers bursting, all the colours, but I can't ignore the fact that it creates pollution. Since we just can't do without crackers and the market has limited options for the ones that don't create smoke what we can do is two or three families should get together and buy limited crackers. As for me, I am supporting smoke-free Diwali.

Panic attack 
Diwali is not easy for your pets. Loud noises cause pain, stress and fear
Somya Abrol

They're your first loyal friends; they welcome you home with the same enthusiasm every night; they comfort you with silence; they don't need words to express their love, and yet, thanks to us, they have to hide behind sofas, under beds, scratch walls in helplessness as we celebrate 'the biggest Hindu festival' —the so-called festival of lights, Diwali.

While the media has been advocating a cracker-free Diwali for weeks, the message happens to fall on some deaf, adrenaline-driven ears.

Engineering student from Panchkula, Ishan Chouhan, the owner of a Cocker Spaniel and a Pomeranian, says, "The noise turns both my dogs into scared cats. They run around the house, hiding inside cupboards, behind sofas. Being protective as we are, we prefer staying in the same room as them. Since they can't sleep by themselves, on Diwali, we let them sleep with us next to the bed."

So, amidst this ruckus, how do you keep your pet from panicking? We have expert help at hand…

Canine family coach and behaviourist from Bangalore, Sindhoor Tangal says it's the overwhelming panic due to loud noises that makes our canine act a certain way. "Dogs are much more sensitive to sound than humans; they can hear noises we can't. So, loud noises from crackers cause them pain, stress and fear, which in turn results in behavioural problems. They start barking a lot, running around the house in search of comfort, and can even go to the extent of biting members of the family. In such a situation, the ideal thing to do is to take them out of town, to a calmer place," suggests Sindhoor.

And if you're not one to leave the house on Diwali, there are ways you can tackle the problem at home. "They run around in search of protection. Keep in mind, they do not need to be hugged during this time; it's not comforting. Hugging only suffocates them, contrary to popular belief. As a side-effect of the noise, they may pee a lot or even suffer from loose motions; this is completely normal. Since they're dealing with a lot by themselves, the owners just need to leave them alone. Don't try to protect them; let their natural instincts kick in. Let them hide under the bed or behind sofas," she adds.

There is, however, something you can do to comfort them. "Make some dietary changes. Add rice, sesame, spinach and chicken to their diet. Rice in particular helps them fall asleep easily."

Veterinarian Dr Kuldeep Sohal from Royal Canine Pet Care, Sector 11, has seen a rise in burn cases in dogs and points out the remarkable behavioural changes he witnesses in dogs immediately after Diwali. "It's basically stress induced by loud noises that brings about these behavioural changes. We get a lot of burn cases on the night of Diwali, every year. Dogs run havoc in panic, as their auditory systems are compromised, and end up hurting themselves. A lot of dogs become sluggish and refuse to eat too. I would recommend feeding them foods that they relish and keeping them completely off sweets. If all else fails, a mild sedative can also be given to your dog, after consulting the doctor," suggests Dr Sohal.

And in case your furry friends get lost in the haze of smoke and noise, technology can come to rescue with micro-chip dog tags such as WagTag. These tags help keep a tab on your canine and in case lost, help communicate the details of the dog's owner to the finder. So, while you can't help the noise on Diwali, take some simple precautions to not let worry dampen your festive spirit.

Handle with care

Let them loose.
Don't try to hug them.
Add spinach, sesame and chicken in their diet.
Try to find a safe corner for them in the house.
Get them to sleep easy after a dinner of rice.
Let them sleep in the same room as you.
Give them meals on time
Avoid sweets

Model moves 
Actor Gurleen Chopra who has worked in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bhojpuri and Punjabi films, is happy with her career graph
Manpriya Singh

Frank conversations are rare to come by. All the more with natives of the celluloid world. So, when Chandigarh girl Gurleen Chopra doesn't sugar coat things, the content of the conversation overshadows the context.

"I came today morning itself and I will be catching up with my family, meeting friends and spending time at home. At the most, I will visit a gurdwara, light a candle or two and burst a cracker or two. That's it. What else is there to do for Diwali? What is essentially means to me is family time," she shrugs over the obvious festive rituals, while in Chandigarh for the re-launch of La Opulence Salon and Beauty Studio. The institutions she acknowledges the importance of but doesn't blindly subscribe to. "I'm not a spa junkie and don't go to beauty parlours much and nor am I a make-up girl. But given the profession that I'm in, one just has to look groomed all the time, so I can't avoid it either."

Language no bar

Having done Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bhojouri and of course Punjabi films, she is happy to be shuttling languages rather then hopping onto trivial projects.

"Once you start staying at a place, you automatically pick up the language. Now I understand almost all these languages." Meanwhile, there hasn't been a reverse opportunity to teach Punjabi to people down South. "I just go do my work and don't interact much with people."

It was exactly a year ago that she came in for Diwali and for the launch of a yet another salon. The dream role back then distinctly remained that of Sridevi in Sadma. Does it now? "I'd love to play a character like that of Sridevi from the film Sadma." Out of the several roles played, that of, "Kranti in Manmohan Singh's Ajj De Ranjhe has been most special so far. Not just because of the director but also because of the character I played."

While the right role, on similar lines, passes by, there's modelling and online opportunities to take care of things. "You will definitely see me in Hindi movies but before that you will see me online at popular shopping portals modeling for the clothes. I'd rather wait and let modelling take care of my bills than do some not so good films."

Acting it is on any given day, save for modelling work that brings in the steady income. She continues sans any pretenses, "You see sustaining yourself in Mumbai calls for at least a packet a month. I am happy to be doing modelling assignments and photo shoots and doing quality work onscreen. That allows me to be choosy about my projects." Like we said, it has been a frank conversation.

on the go: Gurleen Chopra

Lighting up lives 
As we get ready to celebrate Diwali with fancy lights and decorative diyas, some people go the extra mile to bring a ray of hope for the underprivileged 
Amarjot Kaur

children take part in a workshop at vatsal chaya
children take part in a workshop at vatsal chaya

With most of its buildings and plazas adorned with the well-knit veil of lights, Chandigarh is ready to welcome Deepavali, a festival, which symbolises vanquishing of ignorance (darkness) by knowledge (light).

While a million lamps and diyas light-up the darkest night (amavasya) of the month, one wanders in the dark corners of the city…the corners that lurk in the utter despondency of poverty and ignorance. It is then when one is hit by a question that rues the concerns of society and mocks its values that are so strongly connected with the relevance of Diwali. As we engage in an interesting banter with the founders of city-based non-governmental organisations, we discover the essence of Diwali, as a festival of lights and decode its true perspective.

The homecoming

"We get so many lamps to light up our houses and burn so many crackers to light up the sky, but what about the people who can not even afford all these festivities? Can't we, from our minimum of five diyas, spare a diya that lights their lives?," asks city-based theatre artiste, Zulfikar Khan of Theatre Age.

For long, Zulfikar has been transforming slum children's lives through theatre while running a Chandigarh-based non-governmental organisation, Theatre Age, where he also gives them training in vocational pursuits.

"This Diwali is a very special for us as two of our students have qualified for higher education. One boy made it to Desh Bhagat University and a girl got through GCG 11. They will be coming to our office at Government School-24 to celebrate Diwali with us," says Zulfikar, who beckons the city folks to join him at the celebrations instead of bursting crackers this Diwali. "We are an organisation that has been funded by the public and even though earlier, we had made several diyas and all to sell to people, but it somehow didn't work for us," he says.

Bonding of brotherhood

With as many as 8,000 children joining Vatsal Chaya and the launch of its brand- new endeavour called the Buddy Project, Sangita Vardhan, the chairperson and founder of the NGO, shares with us a few ways in which her organisation aims to light up some lives.

"This Diwali we have introduced a new project called the Buddy Programme, wherein the children studying here can also bring their younger siblings, who they have to take care of since the parents are away working," says Sangita. She shares that at the Government School-8, they will also be teaching the children to paint animal pots and diyas, which can later be purchased as Diwali gifts at their website "This Diwali we are offering a special edition of Chandigarh-souvenir theme products made by the children at the NGO, which people can buy and gift to their loved ones this Diwali. The buyers may contact us on our Facebook page too," Sangita shares.

Make a wish

Choti si Asha, a volunteer driven, social enterprise, which works for building sustainable livelihood for the underprivileged women and children in Chandigarh operates a livelihood programme, where the community members learn vocation skills for making bags, file folders, office stationery and lifestyle décor products.

"The organisation works to deliver market-driven programmes to enable educated but unemployed youth integrate into the economic mainstream and this Diwali we will be holding an exhibition of our products at Infosys," says Jatinder Maan, the marketing manager of the organisation.

"Also, this Diwali, we are planning to organise a small party at the library and educational centre in Janta Colony, a slum community located on the outskirts of Chandigarh. Here, most of the children have access to dismal educational opportunities," says Jatinder. A list of products made by the members of the organisation can be ordered on their Facebook page. The products include jute wallets, fabric wallets, jute gift bags, diyas, Lakshmi Ganesh idols made of terracotta, handmade diaries, and bottle bags etc.

Campaigning the cause

As a part of their Green Diwali campaign, Yuvsatta aims to engage the students of Eco Club of several schools, including New Public School-18, Government Model Sr. Sec. School-19, and Government Model Sr. Sec. School- 33. While the students of New Public School staged a nukkad natak (street play) on the theme of 'saying no to crackers & yes to life', as part of its anti-cracker initiative, the NGO, along with the Department of Environment, Chandigarh Administration, is also promoting local schools to observe a week-long 'Green Diwali Awareness Programmes'.

"This Diwali too, we have been going to several schools to educate them about how bursting crackers on Diwali is promoting child labour. Most students pledged to celebrate cracker-free Diwali," says Pramod, a member of Yuvsatta.

Let there be light

Teach a Child, a city-based NGO that aims to educate the underprivileged children, will be organising a diya-painting activity at British School-45 on October 22 from 4 pm onwards. "We will also be screening the story of Ramayan along with a 15-minute-long play that will highlight the importance of Diwali," says Sidharth Chopra, education manager of Teach a Child. "Also, we will be educating people on the adverse effect of bursting crackers," he adds.

So, this Diwali, while you banish the darkness in your life, light up the lives of those who truly need your love and support to add meaning to their life and thereby, your own. Here's wishing you a meaningful Diwali!

gyan zone
In sync with time
Viraja Mandhre and Shyamjithkiran do not mind giving Bharatnatyam a contemporary twist while retaining the depth and perspective of the dance form
Amarjot Kaur

Shyamjithkiran and Viraja Mandhre
classical note: Shyamjithkiran and Viraja Mandhre

Together, Viraja Mandhre and Shyamjithkiran weave a mosaic of artistic moves through dance that spells heritage and culture with profound grace.

While beholding a sight of the dancer duo attempting to recreate the magic of Bharatnatyam at the Tagore Theatre recently, we engaged in an interesting banter with the young dancers, who were in Chandigarh on an invitation by the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Both, Viraja and Shyamjithkiran, who are the alumni of Kalakshetra, Chennai, have been performing Bharatnatyam across the country for over four years now. As they wax eloquent about their experience and journey so far, the dancers demand an equal level of acceptance of classical dance forms as the popular Bollywood dances receive.

"I had been trained in Bharatnatyam from a very young age and it was not a very conscious decision. However, my mother really wanted me to study this dance form and so, I was enrolled in Kalakshetra when I was 15," begins Viraja, who hails from Pune.

Meanwhile, Shyamjithkiran, who has already been trained in Bhatarnatyam by Guru VP Dhananjayan's institute, Bhaskara, while he was in Kerala, shares that he enrolled in Kalakshetra because his mother wanted him to learn Bharatnatyam. "In Kerala, every boy learns one or the other dance form and for me, it was Bharatnatyam," he shares.

While the duo elaborate on Bharatnatyam being one of the most experimental dance forms, which can, to a very great extent, facilitate collaborations, they rue the treatment given to the classical dances in India. "Struggle is a part of an artist's journey, but I often wonder what happens to the funds and grants that the government gives for the preservation of cultural dance forms," questions Shyamjithkiran. He also points out that as compared to the western dancers, who perform for the sake of art, Indian dancers are apprehensive of being accepted by their own audience. "When I look at a performance by Pina Bausch, Martha Graham or even Ji?í Kylián, I feel that they dance and choreograph for the sake of art. Whereas Indian artistes are very afraid of their audience," he says.

Viraja and Shyamjithkiran, who perform Bharatnatyam with a contemporary twist, share that most of the times, audiences are fed a half-baked performances of Bharatnatyam that lacks, both depth and perspective. "A Bharatnatyam performer must understand the language and content of their dance first, only then will they be able to convey it to the audience," says Viraja. "I think if corporate culture can value etiquettes, they can also accommodate cultural etiquettes and take upon themselves the responsibility to promote classical dances," they sign off.

Master Chef
Mazedar modak!
Neelu Kaura

A twist here and there; fusion food is always a delight. With a dash of chocolate, one can change the traditional modak into a modern one by adding chocolate chips and chocolate sauce. Here is the recipe for Makai Chocolaty Modak. 

Makai Chocolaty Modak

  • Corn flour 200 gms (makai ka atta)
  • Sugar natural 3tbsp
  • Desi ghee 4 tbspn
  • Mix dry fruit (almonds, walnuts) chopped
  • Roasted Til
  • Choco chips (few)
  • Hot chocolate 4tbspn


Make a soft dough of cornflour with lukewarm water. Make chapattis with the dough-like Makai ki Roti It should not be thin. Put roti in a big bowl. Add sugar, ghee, mix dry fruit and some choco chips. Mix it well and divide into equal balls. Make modak shape. Pour some hot chocolate on it and sprinkle some roasted til.

(Kaura is a Ludhiana-based culinary expert)

— As told to Poonam Bindra

Cool & suave
Poonam Bindra

Our fashion style is now dictated to a large extent by Bollywood trends. It was not so earlier when the actors wore clothes that looked good only on the screen. Combined with brand-wear, everybody can make a fashion statement conveniently. We catch up with Karan Soni, a former model, who is currently the producer of the movie What the Jatt.

Your sense of style

One is stylish if one looks best in whatever one wears and it has an impact on the overall personality, which includes the physique also.

What is one thing you treasure in your belongings?

A shirt in blue colour from Wills Lifestyle

Your style icon…

Hrithik Roshan

The worst dressed celebrity?

Nobody in particular.

Brand freak or street pick-up?

Only brands.

Sporty, chic or glamorous?


Your take on accessories…

I have a good collection of shades and don't like to wear a watch.

What is one fashion trend you would not like to follow?

Any funky fashion.

If given a choice, you would choose which designer?

Manish Malhotra.

When do you feel very confident of yourself?

My two high points of confidence are after I am done with my prayers and after I have worked out in the gym. Of course dressing to the T always adds to the confidence quotient.

So sweet

Super Donuts brings to tricity special Diwali gift hampers, with eye-catching decorations, and a wide range of products. With the launch of their baked goods, Super Donuts offers a wider, yummier range of products. "We've always believed in evolving our menu, and Diwali seemed like the perfect time to introduce more products. We've added dry cakes, muffins, stick jaws, cookies, brownies, soup sticks, brownies, and a few more things," says Ketan Kalra, CEO of Super Donuts. With a research and development period that lasted three months, and also included the assistance of bakers from Europe; it's no wonder that the range of products offered is so wide, and so yummy!

Super Donuts has also brought for the benefit of its clientele three different types of gift packaging and gift hampers.


The right cut

Rangriti offers a collection of chic traditional wear for this Diwali season. The collection boasts of royal colours, aesthetic embellishments and beautiful patterns in a host of fabrics as well as designs. From pure cottons, denims, voiles, nets, silks and georgettes to attractive hand-block prints, fine embroidery, zari and mirror work…there are a host of options. One can choose anything from trendy kurtas to rich Anarkali suits to dupattas at fabulous prices.

Says Siddharath Bindra, MD of Rangriti, "We are in high spirits after introducing Rangriti's new festive winter collection in the market. With this new collection, we are sure to attract people."

— TNS 

So sweet!

Super Donuts brings to tricity special Diwali gift hampers, with eye-catching decorations, and a wide range of products. With the launch of their baked goods, Super Donuts offers a wider, yummier range of products. "We've always believed in evolving our menu, and Diwali seemed like the perfect time to introduce more products. We've added dry cakes, muffins, stick jaws, cookies, brownies, soup sticks, brownies, and a few more things," says Ketan Kalra, CEO of Super Donuts. With a research and development period that lasted three months, and also included the assistance of bakers from Europe; it's no wonder that the range of products offered is so wide, and so yummy!

Super Donuts has also brought for the benefit of its clientele three different types of gift packaging and gift hampers, with beautiful and intricate decorations that are sure to hold anyone's gaze. — TNS

star track
Bundchen against ‘unattainable’ beauty ads

Gisele Bundchen Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has slammed advertising campaigns that portray "unattainable" beauty as they make women feel "distant". The Brazilian beauty, who is the new face of Chanel's No 5 fragrance, says that while adverts for such brands can be seen as "aspirational", they are often nothing more than a distant reality for the majority of women.

"Sometimes I feel like adverts like this can make women feel so distant. They are so glamorous and so unattainable and so aspirational that you really can't touch them, in a way. They are kind of a dream," the 34-year-old said.

However, she said that the Parisian fashion house has made a conscious effort to make their latest campaign more relatable to regular women. She said: "The idea really was to show this modern woman and all that she is, with her struggles and her vulnerability. And yes, she is glamorous. Of course she's glamorous — she is powerful and successful —but she is also struggling.

"You know she is a mother, a wife and a professional, and she is juggling all of that, and you know that's not easy." — IANS

Amitabh praises Happy New Year

Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan, who watched an early screening of Farah Khan's upcoming film Happy New Year, is all praise for the film. He praised the film on Twitter and wrote: "Back from @HNY ... it is HHUUUUUGGEEEEEE !! What mounting for @HNY .. the songs, the story, the performances .. A RIOT !!!"

Anushka’s item number

Anushka Sharma has done her first item number in Dil Dhadakne Do. The song is titled Swing and it will also feature Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah.

Victoria worried about her son

Victoria Beckham Victoria Beckham's son Brooklyn will turn 16 next year, and her biggest worry is reportedly his demand to learn how to ride a motorbike.

The former Spice Girls singer's worry stems from the fact that her husband David crashed his bike in August this year.

"Victoria is petrified, it's every mum's worst nightmare when their child wants a motorbike," a source as saying.

Usually, the 40-year-old designer doesn't stop her children — including Romeo, 12, Cruz, nine, and Harper, three — from doing what they want. But she is scared as far as allowing Brooklyn to ride a bike is concerned. "David and Victoria would never want to stop their children doing anything but she is hoping Brooklyn changes his mind, it scares the living daylights out of her," the source added.

Her husband and former footballer David was left battered and bruised when he came off his motorcycle in Los Angeles as he was leaving a Sunset Boulevard tattoo parlour earlier this year.

At that time, he had said: "It was not a great experience but I was lucky. Riding bikes is dangerous at times."

Perhaps, he will tell his son the same! — IANS 

Name game

Actor Ryan Reynolds, who is looking forward to the birth of his first child with his wife and actress Blake Lively, has already thought of names for yet unborn child.

The 37-year-old actor shared the details while talking to Canadian entertainment show "etalk", while receiving his star at Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto recently.

"On the plane over here I was trying to think of baby names. I don't want a name that's anything pretentious or, like, Hollywood-y. So, I'm going with Excalibur Anaconda Reynolds Â… that's if it's a girl," he said.

"The Proposal" star has also thought of a boy name and he says it would probably be "Bruce Jenner".


SRK right guide for Vivaan

Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, who was present at the 16th MAMI film festival, says he has watched his son Vivaan's film Happy New Year and has enjoyed it. He claimed it's a paisa wasool film. He also said as for commercial films, no one can guide his son better than Shah Rukh.

Naseeruddin Shah said: "I have seen the film, it's a great film; it's a paisa vasool' film. I am very much happy with Vivaan's performance. Being a newcomer, he has been given a lot of attention. For commercial films, no one can guide him better than Shah Rukh."

Directed by Farah Khan, Happy New Year features Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, among others. The versatile actor, who was present to talk about his film Junoon at the film festival, says it is not just inspiring but also a memorable film.

He says, "Junoon is not just an inspirational film, it's also a memorable film. I also feel festivals are the right platform for films that don't have big budgets. I feel proud that I was associated with this film."

Released in 1978, Junoon was directed by Shyam Benegal and the film featured Shashi Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Nafisa Ali, among others.


Welcome gift

Taylor Swift Singer Taylor Swift has released the third song Welcome to New York from her forthcoming album 1989 on iTunes, and fans are loving it. Swift has continuously given her fans bits and pieces of her fifth album — 1989, which is coming out on October 27. She continues the same with the new release.

Earlier she released two songs — Shake it off and Out of the woods.

"I wanted to start the album with the song because New York has been an important landscape and location for the story of my life in the last couple of years," the 24-year-old said in an interview with TV show Good Morning America. In April this year, the singer purchased a $19.9 million penthouse in the Tribeca neighbourhood of New York City.

"I dreamt about moving to New York. I became obsessed and then I did it," Swift said, adding that NYC is an "electric city". — IANS

Early celebrations

Diwali is still a day away but Shilpa Shetty and her husband Raj Kundra kicked off the Diwali celebrations with a party for friends and family at their Mumbai residence last weekend. Bipasha Basu and her beau Harman Baweja were also spotted at the Diwali celebrations. Bipasha shared a picture of them together and tweeted: "Sweetest hosts always Raj n Shilpa:) Diwali feels incomplete without them."

Birthday girl

Parineeti Chopra, who will be next seen in Kill Dil, celebrated her 26th birthday on October 22. She didn't do much as she is currently busy promoting her film. Kill Dill will release on November 14.

Argumentative Indian

Swara Bhaskar Swara Bhaskar, who received rave reviews from the audience and critics alike for her performance in Raanjhanaa, will next be seen in Sooraj Bharjatya's Prem Ratan Dhan Payo essaying the role of Salman Khan's sister and recently travelled to Delhi to participate in a prestigious debate alongside the alumni of Delhi University.

The actress, who was extremely keen to represent her alma mater, Miranda House, in the debate convinced the crew of the film to give her two days off to fulfill her college commitment and they obliged.

Swara says, "I am deeply honoured to be invited to this prestigious debate among such senior and stellar speakers. And it was also homecoming of sorts for me, as it is always special when one's alma mater displays such faith in their students. While I was shooting for my next with Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor I received a call from them inviting me for this debate and I just had to come. So, I managed to convince the crew and got two days off."

Farhan sings for his sister

Farhan Akhtar is a multi-faceted personality. The actor dons multiple hats for his films, and even for his upcoming film Dil Dhadakne Do, he played the roles of an actor, producer and singer.

Farhan Akhtar is singing in the film. It was an impromptu decision. The lyrics of the track have been penned by Zoya and their father Javed Akhtar. Even though Farhan is busy shooting for his next, he took out time for the song. 

Support for cinema

Huma Qureshi is a connoisseur of cinema. She started her career with theatre and has moved on to films. She owes a lot to cinema. Huma goes out of her way to contribute to cinema whenever she can. Huma is knowledgeable about various kinds of cinema all over the world. Naturally, she tries to lend her full support to cinema. Recently she has been lending her support to MAMI. Huma was part of the opening ceremony. She is also on the Dimensions Mumbai jury.

Positively negative

After a sabbatical of four years, actor Govinda is all set to reboot his acting career with a negative role in upcoming Kill Dil. He talks about his role, daughter Narmada and more.

Negative role

I am happy that people have accepted me in a negative character and like the promos of Kill Dil. I never thought I could play a hardcore villain. I wasn't confident of playing a negative character. Luckily, the role worked and I enjoyed doing a negative character. I have played a negative character only once in my career (Shikari, released in 2000). At the time, I was at the top of my game and was confident of playing any kind of role.

Losing weight

I was 114 kg when I was in politics. For Partner (2007), with Salman Khan, I lost 17 kg. I went on a diet, did a lot of gymming, yoga and several other things, but couldn't reduce any further. Then someone explained metabolism to me and advised me to do Savitri chanting, which is the scriptural knowledge of the gods. You read and chant certain things every day and it helps keep away the negativity. With that, I have reduced a lot more.

Praise worthy

Ranveer Singh is an amazing actor. He has an amazing physique; I don't think I can ever have such a physique (laughs). Ranveer does not cheat with his work. He genuinely works hard for any character he does. I hope he stays true to his work all his life.

Clear the air

I am open to playing a father or even a grandfather if the character is good. I quit Shaandar because the makers of the film had told me that they would narrate the script to me, but they didn't because they were busy. Later on, a couple of weeks before they started shooting, they called and told me that they would narrate the script to me on the set itself. I refused to work in the film because I have never done a film without hearing the script in advance.

Daughter dearest

Narmada is educated enough to think and do what is right for her. I believe that she will do some good work and will excel in whatever she does. I can assure you, the day she is launched, she will be a stunner.

Kajol comes back

Kajol If the latest rumours are anything to go by, Kajol to make her comeback with the remake of 2014 Malayalam hit How Old Are You. Let's see how this one turns out!

The punctual Sunny

Adult movie star and actress Sunny Leone, who is making her Telugu film debut with Current Theega, has impressed everybody with her professionalism, says the film's director G. Nageshwar Reddy. "She was extremely punctual and professional. We were all surprised that she maintained professional attitude on sets throughout the course of the shoot," said Reddy. Sunny plays a cameo of a school teacher in the film, which is the official remake of Tamil hit Varutha Padatha Valibar Sangam.

While Sunny will be essaying her role in a traditional avatar, the makers have, however, included a special song featuring the Indo-Canadian actress.Paired with actor Manchu Manoj, Current Theega also stars Jagapathi Babu and Rakul Preet Singh in important roles.

The film is slated for October 31 release. — IANS

Margarita in London

After winning several accolades at the Toronto Film Festival the film Margarita with a Straw was screened at the London Film Festival over the weekend and it was a grand success.

Goran in Garhwal

Victor Banerjee, Goran Paskaljevic, Barkha Bisht Sengupta, Milan Markovic and Kunal Shamshere at launch of Dev Bhoomi film at 16th Mumbai Film Festival
Victor Banerjee, Goran Paskaljevic, Barkha Bisht Sengupta, Milan Markovic and Kunal Shamshere at launch of Dev Bhoomi film at 16th Mumbai Film Festival

Starring Victor Banerjee, Dev Bhoomi is set in Garhwal, Uttarakhand. After a series of location scouting visits, film's shooting begins in March 2015.

At the 16th Mumbai Film Festival, acclaimed director Goran Paskaljevic announced his plans to make an Indian film titled Dev Bhoomi starring India's legendary and acclaimed actor Victor Banerjee.

The director credited for creating the first private company of production of cinema in former Yugoslavia, is soon to add another first to his credit, that of filming the first ever Indo-Serbian co-production.

Dev Bhoomi explores the homecoming of a 65-year-old man, Rahul, who, when he discovers he is going blind, decides to return from England to his village in Garhwal to take one last look at the world he ran away from, 40 years ago. The film besides exploring the vagaries of life, will paint a quaint, picturesque yet intense side of Garhwal.

Produced by Milan Markovic, the film will be entirely shot in the scenic state Uttarakhand by March-April 2015. The director with his team has been travelling to Dehradun and nearby places in Uttarakhand for scouting locations.

Goran shared, "Dev Bhoomi is a story of simple dramatic structure, tense inside, without a lot of external effects, an intimate poem, such as the sound of the ancient flute that accompanies Rahul along the magnificent landscape of the Himalayas." Giving an added glimpse of his vision, he added, "Similar to the style of native paintings with their strong coloor, teeming with folk motifs, in the background is revealed the complexity of contemporary Indian society in rural mountainous areas, far from cities. That's the kind of film I would like to make."

With his cinematic creations spanning 30 documentaries and 16 feature films, Goran Paskaljevic besides being one of Europe's most respected directors is a known name worldwide. His work has been showcased and acclaimed at the most prestigious international film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian to name a few. He is also the president of the India Gold Jury and Guest of Honor of the 16th Mumbai Film Festival.

Victor Banerjee fans and movie buffs at the Mumbai Film Festival were thrilled over the announcement of Dev Bhoomi. The veteran actor appeared to be equally delighted on teaming up with award winning Serbian director, Goran Paskaljevic. “Goran and I have been contemporaries, friends, co-jury members at festivals for many years. This film gave us a chance to add another dimension to our association, that of expressing ourselves through a film. He is a gifted film-maker who trusts his instincts and beautifully depicts real life imagery through cinema and it is a great feeling to work with him,” he said.

chatter box
Language barrier

Natasa Stankovic Natasa Stankovic is the latest contestant to get eliminated from reality show Bigg Boss 8. Since she does not speak Hindi fluently, she could not participate in the conversations inside the house. She says that Ali Quli's behaviour is fake.

One for the child!

Hauslon Ki Udann, an initiative undertaken by Colors, is a mission to touch lives of millions of kids across the country by giving them an opportunity to feature in a special episode of Udann this Children's Day! The show etches the life of little Chakor, who's a bonded labourer by birth. Played by Spandan Chaturvedi, the show traces her life as she faces the many trials and tribulations with a smiling face. Inspired by Chakor's undying spirit, the contest will have her ask kids to paint their thoughts on freedom and send in their entries to the channel.

The names of the winners will be announced after every episode of the show. They will be invited to Mumbai to feature in the Children's Day special episode of the show, which will give them an opportunity to become a star like Chakor. A similar exercise will be activated on grounds as well as in various markets, where children aged 7-14 years will express 'freedom' through their paintings.

Melody man
Maninder Mahi, who has already established himself as a popular singer on the national and international platform, shares excerpts from his journey in the world of music so far

Maninder Mahi What was your childhood like?

I was a very naughty child, but active in sports. I excelled in all kinds of sports, including boxing and handball. My father was a good sportsman, a keen singer and an avid tabla player. He was my inspiration in all the endeavours I undertook.

When did you take to music?

The year 1992 was the turning point in my life, as I finally decided to shift my interest from sports to music and explore myself as a professional singer. I headed towards Delhi and my struggling period actually began then. I started doing small stage shows to earn my livelihood.

Are you a trained musician? When did you get your first break?

Yes; as I belong to the Patiala Gharana, I wanted to master it to some extent. After moving to Delhi, I started taking classes from my guru, Surinder Soni Ji (All-India Radio music director/composer). I got a break with my first solo international pop album by HMV Hoya Akh Da Ishara in 1999, under the music direction of Jawahar Wattal, who rocked the music industry with his superduper hit albums of famous Punjabi pop singers Daler Mehndi, Shankar Sahney and Bhupi. Ultimately, smooth times began after great struggle. My next International album is a mix of Sufi and fusion music.

How did you enter Bollywood?

After doing one more solo folk album Shaan Vakhri, I moved to Mumbai to try my luck in Bollywood. Fortunately, in my first movie, Bolo Ram, I sang with Sundhi Chauhan and next year did a solo song Desi Jat in the film Sahi Dhande Galat Bande. After that I sang Jo Hum Chahein's song Peepni. Then I even got an opportunity, I guess the biggest of my life, to sing Sukh Karta Dukh Harta for Siddhi Vinayak Mandir Mumbai. Recently, I was on a tour to Europe, United Kingdom and Dubai, where I got an opportunity to share the stage with the legendary tabla artist, Taari Khan, from Pakistan.

— Dharam Pal

End of the journey

Preeti Chaudhary Preeti Chaudhary, who plays the lead role in daily soap Ek Rishta Aisa Bhi, is allegedly miffed with the makers of the show after she was told that her character would die.

Happy times

The cast of Happy New Year recently visited the sets of game show Kaun Banega Crorepati and had a blast. Enacting their film characters, the cast members of the film were seen going through Amitabh Bachchan's green room to steal items. Not able to resist himself, Shah Rukh Khan even picked up Big B's shirt to take away with him. When Abhishek highlighted the fact that it would be too big for him, SRK in his witty style replied that he will not give up on the shirt even if it means using it as a tent!

Astro turf
p Khurrana

ARIES: The temptation to help out a friend with a loan should be discussed with your partner first. Talk about this honestly and you will be surprised at the positive outcome. Tarot message: Be articulate to prevent people from coming to their own conclusions. Lucky colour: Yellow. Magic number: 32.

TAURUS: Your boss will support you. Do not allow yourself to be talked into an erratic move. It is the right time to purchase something that adds to the value of your house. Avoid eating out. Tarot message: Don't dismiss the advice of youngsters. Lucky colour: Green. Magic number: 52.

GEMINI: Do not try to hurry jobs that require meticulous handling. Arguments can arise with your mate or partner. Consult the experts when cash questions come up. Tarot message: Use your instinct to get into the top circle of power. Lucky colour: Red. Magic number: 64.

CANCER: You draw 'The Emperor', so the day promises all comforts. Spare time for family and children. It will be much easier for you to meet challenges today. Focus on the task at hand. Tarot message: Set events into motion. Lucky colour: Turquoise. Magic number: 53.

LEO: An irritating co-worker can push your limits. Practice deep-breathing and you can maintain your composure. A desire to retreat to the comfort of your own home will be overwhelming. Tarot message: Accept responsibility for yourself and others. Lucky colour: Crimson. Magic number: 40.

VIRGO: The card "The Moon" indicates an emotional setback. Stick to what you know and understand. Money problem will prevail. Children: enjoy with your friends. Legal suits turn in your favour. Tarot message: Your determination to succeed will pay dividends. Lucky colour: Orange. Magic number: 61.

LIBRA: At work, a colleague steers you in a new direction. Financial rewards will get delayed. Love stars are behind the clouds. A small celebration at home is likely. Professionals: you need a break. Tarot message: Work can pose minor difficulties, but don't worry. Lucky colour: Peach. Magic number: 26.

SCORPIO: Get cracking early. What you need now is energy. You must push yourself harder. Be careful with money. This is not the right day for writing official letters. Women shoppers will spend heavily. Tarot message: Plan your life better. Lucky colour: Mauve. Magic number: 47.

SAGITTARIUS: Your card 'The Nine of Cups' reveals inner strength and enthusiasm. Do not take any risk on the road and drive carefully. Tarot message: Don't forsake a new learning opportunity because of pride. Lucky colour: Rainbow-pastels. Magic number: 65.

CAPRICORN:Your card 'Page of Pentacles' promises a progressive day. Health problems can be satisfactorily attended. Personal plans are likely to progress without too much opposition. Tarot message: Emphasise on spiritual needs. Lucky colour: Saffron. Magic number: 50.

AQUARIUS: Business is likely between you and your associates. Longterm benefits can be gained. Attempt to improve your health will be successful. Your mind can wander on the job. Tarot message: Balance in all aspects is recommended. Lucky colour: Ebony. Magic number: 62.

PISCES: Entrepreneurs will go through an anxious period. The married or those in love will find the day exciting. Students: success in competitive sports is assured. Neither borrow nor lend. Tarot message: Do not transact in uncertain matters. Lucky colour: Blue. Magic number: 45.

The year ahead
Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is October 22...

Being born on the 22nd, you are capable of handling large-scale undertakings and assuming great responsibility. Often, there is rigidity and a tendency to repress feelings in your nature. Idealistic, you work for the greater good with a good deal of inner strength and charisma. You are very aware and intuitive.

Your wit and wisdom can shine this year. Beautiful rewards can be yours for the taking if you maintain harmony and balance in your dealings. You will probably feel overcome with the desire for order and direction in your life's most important areas.Your financial position will be good.

Positive colours: Dark blue, dark grey

Select days: Saturday.

Favourable numbers: 2, 4, 8.

Gems recommended: Gomed, Tiger Stone

Charity on birthday: Donate green fodder to animals today.

You share your birthday with Kitu Gidwani (October 22, 1967, Mumbai), who became popular after a TV series, Air Hostess, which was aired on Doordarshan in 1986. Later, she acted in the film Fashion. The number four, representing Rahu, makes her life uncertain.

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