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A revisionist take on a crucial but oft-forgotten slice of America’s violent past

Murtaza Ali Khan

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“Before the Civil War, the states were all separate. People used to say ‘united States are.’ Wasn’t until the war ended, people started saying ‘The united States is.’ under Lincoln, we became one nation,” reminds ben Gates, Nicolas Cage’s character in National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

The simple statement is a testament to the singular importance of the american Civil War in uS history. Fought from 1861 to 1865 between northern states loyal to the Abraham Lincoln-led union (aka the North) and southern states that had seceded to form the Jefferson Davis-led Confederate States of america (aka the Confederacy), the war effectively ended after Confederate General.

Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. With the collapse of the Confederacy, slavery was abolished by President Lincoln and as a result, as many as four million enslaved black people became free. The American Civil War is said to have a profound effect on world history. But what a lot of people don’t know is that it was a raid carried by an abolitionist named John brown on the united States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia that had set the ball rolling for the Civil War. The new Showtime series The Good Lord Bird, co-created by Ethan Hawke and Mark Richard, presents a revisionist take on the story of John brown (essayed by Hawke who has also co-written the first episode) and his valiant efforts to end slavery in antebellum america.

While brown failed to initiate a slave revolt, the nationwide press coverage of the raid and his subsequent capture and execution by the Commonwealth of Virginia created a stir in the northern states with more people beginning to share his sentiments against slavery. brown’s last speech became a great source of inspiration for other abolitionists in their fight against slavery. also, it put grave fear in the hearts of slavers as they anticipated more of such attacks in the near future. in less than a year, Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the uS and since the abolition of slavery was a top priority on his agenda it was only a matter of time before the seven slave states seceded from the union to mark the beginning of the american Civil War. Till date, brown remains a highly divisive figure in the US. While some hail him as a martyr and a visionary, others denounce him as a mad-man and a terrorist.

The Good Lord Bird (available in india on Voot Select) is based on a 2013 novel of the same name by James Mcbride. The story is told from the point of view of a fictional enslaved boy Henry Shackleford (brilliantly essayed by young Joshua Caleb Johnson) who is part of brown’s motley crew of abolitionist soldiers during the time of bleeding Kansas — a time when the state of Kansas was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces — and eventually finds himself participating in the aforementioned raid on Harpers Ferry.

The choice of an enslaved boy as the narrator elevates Mcbride’s storytelling above other slave stories of its kind. it also allows us to see the brutal world from a child’s honest point of view. By doing so, Mcbride also distances us from the atrocities of a depraved world marked by slavery. The overdose of racist violence which we have seen in films like 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained is nonexistent here. This allows us to see things more fundamentally. in keeping up with the revisionist tradition, the series doesn’t present things in binaries, thereby allowing us to see things from different points of view.

Take, for example, the episode wherein John brown and a fellow abolitionist named Frederick Douglass clash over methodology. Their ideological differences make us appreciate the complexities associated with the fight for justice and human equality really well.

The Good Lord Bird puts a spot- light on a crucial but oft-forgotten slice of america’s violent past. How a deeply religious white man fought for the belief that everyone is created equal in the eyes of the creator. How he became an antiracist and antislavery champion who managed to instil a strong belief in the hearts of black folks that it’s their birthright to be free. How his failed raid at Harpers Ferry that resulted in him being executed for treason paved the way for the american Civil War which ended with President Lincoln abolishing slavery after the defeat of the Confederate States. The series does suffer from occasional self-indulgence and digression but overall it’s great fun to watch. With the ongoing black Lives Matter protests and widespread conversations about racism in the US, The Good Lord Bird doesn’t just bring us face to face with america’s violent past but it also tries to establish a strong dialogue with the times that we live in.

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I got chased down by UFO: Miley Cyrus

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Star Miley Cyrus claims she has had an encounter with aliens. However, the 27-year-old singer admits she was high at the time, so cannot be certain of what she saw. “I had an experience, actually. I was driving through San Bernardino with my friend, and I got chased down by some sort of UFO. I’m pretty sure about what I saw, but I’d also bought weed wax from a guy in a van in front of a taco shop, so it could have been the weed wax. But the best way to describe it is a flying snowplow. It had this big plow in the front of it and was glowing yellow. I did see it flying, and my friend saw it, too. There were a couple of other cars on the road and they also stopped to look, so I think what I saw was real,” Miley said. 

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Varun Dhawan refutes reports of Namak Halaal remake

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Actor Varun Dhawan has dismissed a report that his father, filmmaker David Dhawan, is working on a remake of the 1982 Amitabh Bachchan superhit, Namak Halaal. The actor shared the update while sharing a link to an article claiming Dhawan senior was working on a remake with Varun leading the film. “Guys u can write how many ever make belief stories about me but don’t make up things about my dad. This is a completely fabricated story … will see u (on) Christmas to make u laugh,” he tweeted. Recently, Varun completed eight years in Bollywood, and wrote a note to thank fans for their support. Varun, who entered Bollywood as an actor with Student Of The Year in 2012, returns to the screen opposite Sara Ali Khan in the remake of the 1995 hit Coolie No. 1, directed by David Dhawan. The film is slated for an OTT release on Christmas.

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Sanjay Dutt defeats cancer, issues statement

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Actor Sanjay Dutt, who recently confirmed that he was fighting cancer, on Wednesday shared a health update saying he has come out victorious in his battle with the disease. Dutt posted a statement on Instagram expressing joy while making the announcement. “The last few weeks were very difficult time for my family and me. But like they say, God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. And today, on the occasion of my kids’ birthday, I am happy to come out victorious from this battle and be able to give them the best gift I can-the health and well-being of our family,” the statement read. 

The actor thanked his family and doctors for taking proper care of him. He also expressed his gratitude to well-wishers for showering him with love. On 11 August, Dutt, who was hospitalised a few days before that due to breathing problems and chest discomfort, shared that he was taking a break for medical treatment. Although the actor or his family members did not reveal anything officially at that point, trade analyst and film industry insider Komal Nahta subsequently confirmed that the actor had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

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Sara shocked at her eviction from Bigg Boss 14

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Sara Gurpal, the first contestant to be evicted from the Bigg Boss 14 house, spoke exclusively to The Daily Guardian and shared her experience in the house, her equation with Hina Khan, Gauhar Khan and Siddharth Shukla, and the love she has received from fans even after her eviction. 

About her eviction from the Bigg Boss house, Sara says, “It was shocking that I got evicted as I had only one vote, whereas other contestants had received more votes for nomination. Gauhar and Hina were in my favour and supported me, whereas Siddharth was against me. Everyone, not only the housemates, but all the fans too, know that the game was unfair.” Sara›s journey in Bigg Boss was a rollercoaster ride. Be it for performing tasks or chopping off her hair, she has been a fighter and given her best, and her fans and audience have seen who had behaved unfairly on the show, she says. Sara also shared with TDG that her bond with everyone was cordial and amicable. 

Talking about her equation with the other contestants, Sara shared that Gauhar Khan, Shezadh Deol, Rubina Dalaik, Abhinav Shukla and Pavitra Punia helped her at the time of her injury. Sara says that Hina Khan knew unfair things were taking place but, at the end, it was Siddharth Shukla›s decision that was taken as the final call. «Everyone knows that Siddharth Shukla is biased towards Nikki Tamboli and the reason for that is their wavelength matching each other’s,” Sara added. Sara also shared that Siddharth Shukla knows how to play the game and has played it well, and that he has the power to influence people. Sara Gurpal had been injured while performing a task and she says the injury was caused because of Nikki Tamboli, due to which she had to leave the Bigg Boss 14 house. 

Sara reveals, “Nikki Tamboli did not have the courtesy to come and apologise. Nishant Malkhani, even for the smallest mistake, had apologised to Shezadh, but Nikki didn›t. It shows how inhumane she is. She does not feel guilty of what she did and I don’t think she has any humanity.” However, Sara says that she is grateful to the people who watched her on the show. “I feel blessed with their love. And to all those fans who have supported me—I will come back with a bang if I get an opportunity to return to the reality show,” Sara promises.

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Shooting for Bellbottom amid Covid-19 was surreal: Lara

Uday Pratap Singh

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Pooja Entertainment, the studio behind cult hits such as Coolie No. 1 and Hero No. 1, became the first production house to start shooting during the Covid-19 pandemic. The film in question is Akshay Kumar-starrer Bellbottom. Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, the spy thriller is being shot extensively in Scotland and the young producers Jackky Bhagnani and Deepshikha Deshmukh ensured that the cast and crew felt totally safe on and off the sets. 

Shooting in the thick of a global pandemic sounds daunting but actress Lara Dutta recounts how the challenges during this unusual time were dealt with professionalism and personal attention. She says, “Initially, it was normal to feel a little anxious considering that Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly in India. But I felt immediate reassurance and confidence when I saw the many protocols in place and how correctly things were being handled. Ours was the first film to be shot after the lockdown but despite the nervousness, we were all eager to get back to work.” 

About the thrill of returning to work, she says, “When the shooting finally began, I was the first actor on the sets. To be part of the first film to be shot after the lockdown felt hugely gratifying. I felt grateful to be on a set where every single precaution possible was being taken, sanitisation was meticulous and the cast and crew were checked every day. Everything was secure, right from the food delivery on sets to the drivers who took us to and fro. Yes, we had to remove our masks during scenes but because we felt safe in a strictly regulated environment, we just wanted to do our job to the best of our abilities.” When asked what it was like to shoot in this kind of environment, Lara said, “It was a surreal experience and I hope this is not going to be the new normal.”

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Bobby Deol on a high

Uday Pratap Singh

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Actor Bobby Deol seems to be in the best phase of his career right now. After making a comeback with Race 3 and Housefull 4, the actor made his big digital debut with Netflix’s Class Of ‘83, bankrolled by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment. Thereafter, he was out with his second digital offering—Prakash Jha’s web series Aashram. Reviews were positive and the audience enjoyed two diverse performances by Bobby. While in the Netflix film, he was seen playing an unfussy, stolid cop and dean of a police academy, in Aashram, he played a selfproclaimed godman with criminal tracks. With Class of ’83 and Aashram Bobby wooed reviewers and viewers alike, with some calling his performance “top-notch” and others saying they were his career-best roles so far. Bobby managed to deliver two diametrically opposite roles, with consummate ease. He has managed to stun the audiences with the versatile portrayal of these two very powerful characters, balancing the good and the evil with perfection. Bobby is now gearing up for the next part of Aashram releasing next month.

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