BHASKAR MENON: THE ICONIC INDIAN IN THE GLOBAL MUSIC INDUSTRY - The Daily Guardian
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BHASKAR MENON: THE ICONIC INDIAN IN THE GLOBAL MUSIC INDUSTRY

From discovering phenomenal talent to producing almost 30% of the world’s recorded music at his prime to nourishing long-term associations with the likes of The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, Bhaskar Menon has been a force to reckon with in the music industry.

Bhuvan Lall

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On the wet Sunday afternoon of 1 August 1971, Pandit Ravi Shankar, the best‐known ambassador of Indian music to the western world, played before a crowd of over 20,000 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Accompanied by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan on the sarod, Kamala Chakravarty on the tambura and Ustad Alla Rakha on tabla, Ravi Shankar performed “Bangla Dhun”. The renowned sitar player was the moving force behind what was labelled as the greatest rock spectacle of the decade—The Concert For Bangladesh.

The idea for a concert originated in June 1971 when Ravi Shankar heard that Pakistani troops had destroyed the property of his guru, Ustad Alauddin Khan, in East Pakistan. TV networks broadcast heart-breaking images of millions of refugees relocating to India to escape the genocide unleashed by military dictator General Yahya Khan. An anguished Ravi Shankar poured his heart out to his friend George Harrison. The quiet Beatle, deeply moved by the unfolding humanitarian crisis, decided to speak loudly with his actions. The musicians organized two benefit concerts to raise $25,000 for the homeless refugees. Devoted to the study of Eastern beliefs, Harrison consulted with an Indian astrologer before setting 1 August as the date for the mega event. Then he worked the phones twelve hours a day and called his fellow rockstars. Within four weeks Harrison lined up the all-star cast of Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann and Badfinger for the concert. Even though the Beatles had split, Ringo Starr dropped everything to participate in the concert at the Madison Square Garden.

This act of conscience captured the imagination of the Americans. Thousands waited overnight in super-cool New York to buy tickets for the show billed as ‘George Harrison & Friends’. In ten hours, 36,000 tickets were sold for the two shows – an afternoon set and an evening set. As the concert began, Ravi Shanker drew tremendous applause even while he fine-tuned his instrument. Next, the two former Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, thrilled the cheering fans with many songs plus “My Sweet Lord” that filled the venue with chants of “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama”. Then Harrison, in a white two-piece suit with the Om symbol embroidered on the lapel, brought out a surprise guest, revealing, “I’d like you to meet Bob Dylan”. The overjoyed spectators went wild, and Dylan in his usual Levis jacket, sang his most famous songs, including “Blowing in the Wind”. The audience responded with a tumultuous ovation. A seven-minute Dutch TV documentary regarding the tragedy on India’s eastern border was screened and the concert ended with a performance of Harrison’s appeal for the refugees in his heartfelt single, “Bangladesh”. Millions of people worldwide heard and read the name Bangladesh for the first time. Dramatically, it became a solid entity culturally and cerebrally, though it was not yet a physical actuality. Eleven days after the concert, the gate money of $243,418.50 was presented to UNICEF for the refugees. On 16 December 1971, the Indian Armed Forces liberated Bangladesh, and three days later, Ravi Shankar and George Harrison’s “The Concert For Bangladesh” was released globally as a beautifully packaged three-album box-set. It topped the charts, eventually winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. The first of a kind, it has since raised over $17 million and inspired the multi-star Live Aid along with thousands of other major charity concerts around the world.

One significant individual behind the worldwide promotion and success of “The Concert For Bangladesh” album was Vijaya Bhaskar Menon. Decades before Indians routinely became CEOs of top American companies, Menon was the first Asian to break the glass ceiling in corporate America as the Los Angeles-based President and Chief Executive Officer of one of the world’s largest music companies, Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). In fact, Menon as an industry leader in the 1970-80s singlehandedly changed the face of the international music industry. 

Bhaskar Menon, the son of K.R.K. Menon, the former Finance Secretary of India, studied at the Doon School and completed his graduation in Economics at St. Stephens College in 1953. A favourite of Professor Keshab Chandra Nag, young Menon also excelled at tennis in the inter-university matches. Groomed for the Indian Foreign Service, he entered Christ Church College at Oxford where, serendipitously in 1956, Joseph Lockwood, Chairperson of EMI, impressed by his brilliance, recruited him as an Executive Assistant. In December 1957, he was directed to the EMI-owned The Gramophone Company of India in Calcutta (Kolkata now). This incredibly sharp and attention-grabbing executive rapidly rose up the EMI ladder in India, first as Commercial Manager and then as Chairperson, Managing Director and Chief Executive in 1964. Under his leadership, the company dominated over the Indian film market. It was here that he befriended Raj Kapoor. With the launch of His Master’s Voice’s (HMV) inexpensive record player, EMI cornered the hardware business too. In mid-January 1971, Menon was dispatched to Los Angeles to scrutinize the $18 million loss made by EMI’s Capitol Records. Subsequently, Lockwood on his annual trip to Hollywood fired the two Presidents at Capitol and on 22 April 1971, The New York Times reported that the 37-year-old Indian Bhaskar Menon had assumed the Presidency at Capitol Industries Inc. Tasked with making the companies profitable, he entered the distinctive 13-story Capitol Records Tower that resembled a stack of records and was one of the iconic landmarks in Hollywood, California. Above his office, a blinking light spelled out the word Hollywood in Morse code. Here Menon created music history. A great team-builder, his dictum for his workforces was simple: “Uncompromising excellence in what you do goes without saying. We expect more than that!” Although his hard-nosed treatment of the complicated situation earned him adversaries in every section of the American music industry, Menon after marathon all-night meetings turned around the financially troubled Capitol. In two years, he showed a profit of $4 million. Greater success and fame awaited him.

With an ear for recognizing phenomenal talent and the skill to nurture it, Menon went on to score quite a few hits. In January 1973, the British quartet Pink Floyd finished recording compositions with heavy lyrical reflections on the human condition at EMI’s state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London. Menon later remembered, “Hearing that record for the first time was one of those extremely rare personal, mesmeric experiences I had only known twice before when I first heard, pre-release, “The Beatles’ White Album and Sgt Pepper”.” Menon straightaway took the audacious decision to put Capitol’s entire weight behind the revolutionary album. Released on 1 March 1973, “The Dark Side of the Moon” was a career-defining achievement for Menon as it sold more than 45 million units worldwide and ultimately spent a mind-boggling 937 weeks on the Billboard 200. Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, confirming Menon’s power held, said, “The other thing that has to be recognized was a man called Bhaskar Menon…  Bhaskar set out making this record number one, and he did it. He motivated the company… he did whatever was necessary… I think without Bhaskar, the record would have done better than the others, but certainly wouldn’t have picked up the momentum it did.” Music critics applauded the album and Menon humbly acknowledged, “Each of us who was closely involved with the project… were pretty intuitively certain that we were unlikely to ever encounter a comparably stunning experience again soon in our professional careers.”

The debonair Indian sporting a French beard also knew the value of cultivating long-term professional associations with the talent. In her memoirs, Linda Ronstadt recalled meeting Menon, “I had never met him before and was surprised to find a charming, refined and intelligent gentleman from India with beautiful manners. His sensitive, kindly demeanor was quite a change from the cigar-chomping American record industry men I had come to see as a defining stereotype”. Later in 1973, Menon signed an unknown British group called Queen with a sensational lead singer – Freddie Mercury – who acknowledged Menon as one of his true friends in the music business. One night in 1974, Menon’s phone rang at 4:30 am. An executive of Capitol excitedly spoke about meeting a writer with a marvelous song called “Rhinestone Cowboy”. In the next hour, Capitol’s entire decision-making team was closing a deal with the singer, Glen Campbell, at Menon’s home in Beverly Hills. That evening, the company recorded the unforgettable song. By 1975, Capitol’s recovery was complete. It landed gold albums by George Harrison, Glen Campbell, Helen Reddy, Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys and Tina Turner, plus its best-selling catalog comprised of The Beatles, Cliff Richard, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond and Olivia Newton‐John. Capitol also signed several recording stars including Blondie, Bob Seger, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Heart, Sheena Easton. Venturing into classical music, Capitol represented Maria Callas, Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert von Karajan. Later, Capitol had considerable success with newer performers such as Billy Idol, Dr. Hook, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, The Pet Shop Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richard Marx and Roxette. Additionally, the company had a 50 percent interest in Britain’s Thames TV and also produced such masterpieces as the multi-Oscar winning Deer Hunter, Murder on the Orient Express and David Lean’s Passage to India.

In his prime, Menon was responsible for the production of almost 30 percent of the world’s recorded music and as the commander-in-chief of a multinational enterprise managed offices in 46 countries. He was respected as an equal opportunity employer and Billboard recorded that his intense expressions were matched by the intensity with which he conducted his business. However, in between his demanding schedules, he found time to get married to Sumitra Paniker in 1972 and they raised a family in California. During Menon’s many decades as the head of a global music giant, he was the most powerful man in the music industry and New Musical Express termed the self-made Indian multimillionaire CEO as “The Man Who Runs Rock & Roll”.

Menon was closely connected with the careers of numerous superstars, however, his bond with The Beatles was exceptional. In 1968, George Harrison had arrived in Bombay (Mumbai now) to work on a soundtrack for a 1960s hippy movie—Wonderwall. Besieged by numerous fans, he autographed a The Beatles’ album for Lata Mangeshkar. Recalling his time in India, Harrison appreciated Menon’s role in generously making resources available for recording his soundtrack and stated, “I worked with Indian musicians at the EMI/HMV studios in Bombay. Mr Bhaskar Menon brought a two-track stereo machine all the way from Calcutta on the train for me, because all they had in Bombay was a mono machine.” Then on 13 November 1971, following The Concert for Bangladesh, a misinformed Harrison on The Dick Cavett Show alleged in barroom language that Capitol and Menon were holding up the concert recording for monetary purposes. Maintaining the sanctity of the charity concert, Menon courteously contended, “Harrison is clearly not in possession of all the facts’’. Harrison, on learning that an unethical middleman was trying to bring Capitol to its knees, profusely apologised to Menon for his outburst. A week later, Capitol harmoniously resolved the dispute and subsequently the album became a musical phenomenon.

Menon who brought out several The Beatles albums also settled the timeworn lawsuits between Apple Records and Capitol, asserting, “We see not the slightest value or benefit of pursuing this long, drawn-out, dust-laden series of litigations. … In some quarters, there is somebody who is benefiting from this. I can certainly say we aren’t, and I can’t imagine the Beatles themselves are.” Then on the cold and sad evening of 8 December 1980, gunshots rang out at the entrance of the Dakota, an apartment building overlooking the west side of the Central Park in Manhattan. It was the last day in the life of John Lennon. Waking up to the shocking news in his Mayfair apartment in London, Menon, a close friend of Lennon, felt a personal loss. He immediately rushed off to Heathrow to board the next Concorde for JFK to meet with Yoko. Outside the commercial side of the intensely profit-driven music business, he was sincerely involved in the lives of his artists. Even now Lennon’s private handwritten letter to Menon from the 1970s concerning the promotion of Yoko Ono’s new album and The Beatles not reuniting is displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in New York City.

The words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, are perhaps apt for Menon. Knighted by the Government of France in 1990, the legendary CEO is not some top executive living in the past. He continues to provide consultancy services in the entertainment sector. Decades after accidentally stumbling into the world of music and being a celebrity that celebrities wanted to meet, Bhaskar Menon remains ever passionate conceding, “There’s one thing about this business, it spoils you for anything else. Once you get into this you can’t ever work in any orthodox business again.”

Bhuvan Lall is the author of “The Man India Missed The Most: Subhas Chandra Bose” and “The Great Indian Genius Har Dayal”. He is currently writing the biography of Sardar Patel. He can be reached at writerlall@gmail.com.

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I got to learn a lot from Abhishek Bachchan while shooting for The Big Bull: Nikita Dutta

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Nikita Dutta

After featuring in blockbuster films like Gold & Kabir Singh, Nikita Dutta is now winning hearts with her performance in The Big Bull. On the day of the film release on Disney + Hotstar, Nikita Dutta joined NewsX for a candid interview as part of NewsX India A-List.

Talking about her incredible journey so far,  Nikita said, “If I go back into when I was in school & college, I actually didn’t have acting on my mind. Like every other very academically-oriented kid, I had plans of sitting and preparing for the IAS. It happened to me with Miss India when I just randomly decided to take part in it and I think from there my journey started. Right after that, once I was done with college, is when I got into television. Television was one of those things that came to me and it seemed interesting. I didn’t want to say no. After I said yes to my first show, I think that’s when I, kind of, fell in love with acting. Slowly & steadily, after doing three shows on television, I said yes to my first film Gold, which of course worked well and that’s how Kabir Singh also happened. From there, I started getting more chances to be a part of some really beautiful films and that’s how it has come along all this while.”

When asked about her time on the sets of The Big Bull and working with Abhishek Bachchan, she expressed, “Well, I had a fabulous time on the sets of the Big Bull. Abhishek, as a person, is extremely entertaining, especially off the camera. I think you can catch him in his best elements off the camera. He is out there to make sure everybody on set doesn’t feel left out. He’s going to pull everybody’s legs. He’s gonna make sure he rags you a little bit. I’ve been a victim of that but I think that is what makes shooting so much more fun with him around. There’s so much I got to learn from him because he is, of course, way more experienced than me. Overall, working with Abhishek and Kookie sir and shooting for The Big Bull was fabulous.”

Nikita tested positive for Covid-19 before the release of the film. Sharing her thoughts on the experience, she said “I don’t know if I should say fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t know how to put it, but I was actually feeling very sick before I tested positive. I was shooting for something and that’s when my co-actor tested positive and we decided to halt the shoot. That’s when I got tested for the first time. It came negative. But, just within a day , I started feeling very unwell and when I got my second test done, that also came negative. It was only in the third test that i tested positive for Covid-19. I got it done just for safety because I wanted to travel. So, by the time I tested positive, I already started to feel much better and now with every day I am getting better. But yeah, it’s something you can’t escape. I think it is inevitable now. Everybody who is out there working outdoors, is somehow going to catch it.”

Expressing her views on the vaccination drive in India and whether it should be rolled out to every adult in the country, she stated, “If you see. India is a highly populated country, so it is right to prioritise, how they have been doing. Though, I also feel it should be really fast because, at the end of it, you know we all want to make a livelihood. We all step out to make money, to earn, make our bread and butter so the soonest this can be done, the better it is for the country and for everybody.”

On doing ‘Rocket Gang’ opposite Aditya Seal, Dutta expressed, “That’s something I am damn excited about. We started this project back in 2019. Then, the pandemic happened. In December 2020, we were in the last leg of finishing the film but, unfortunately, we had to halt it again because of Covid cases on set. But, it is something I am really looking forward to as it is out-and-out dance-based film. I have never danced in front of the camera and this is going to be completely dancing. So, that’s something I am really really looking forward to as it is something different.”

Throwing light on her other upcoming projects, Nikita said, “I am doing this horror film called Ezra with Emraan Hashmi that’s scheduled to believe this year itself. So, again that is a completely different genre again even that is a completely different character I m playing. So, again I think I m very happy with the kind of palette that I have in the coming year that the audience is going to get to see.”

On a concluding note, Nikita shared a piece of advice to all the young girls who wanna make it big in Bollywood. She said, “I have always followed one principle, i.e  go with what your heart says, don’t get influenced by anybody who is coming to tell you how something needs to be done. Do what you think is right. This is one principle I have followed from day one. When I had said yes to television, there were a lot of people who came up to me and said ‘You were making a big mistake and don’t do this. You were gonna stuck over here and you will never be able to be a part of films’. In fact, when I wanted to do films and I took a break from television, I had people coming to me and saying that ‘You are saying no to a constant source of income. With films, you have to be patient and you just never know when you will get the next film.’ So, I have heard all those kinds of things and I think one thing I have always maintained is just follow your heart, do good scripts, do good work that’s all that matters in the end. I think success, or whatever you do in the future, will follow accordingly.”

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‘Every transformation and every client is special to me’: Yash Swami, Founder, Trainedbyyvs

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Yash Swami

Founder of Trainedbyyvs, Yash Vardhan Swami, recently participated in a candid chat with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List. He is a well-known health and fitness trainer as well as one of India’s top health coaches. He is also well-known for his expertise,  which includes everyone from teenagers to celebrities. Yash Vardhan is popular in the industry due to his extensive knowledge of physical exercise routines and diet plans, as well as his successful outcomes.

Tracing his inspiring fitness journey While studying law at Punjab University, he said, “It started with my own transformation, back in 2012, when I lost 44 Kgs, made a lot of mistakes at that time. But somehow I was able to achieve my goal. After that, I started pursuing law but while pursuing law, I helped a few friends of mine. And while helping those friends transform and change their lives, I realized that this is something that I enjoy doing. Then I started educating people around it”.

When asked how he dealt with problems in the past year where people might have lacked motivation when working out at home, he said,“Having a coach would always help you during hard times. But most of the time, it’s the client who has to put in efforts or it’s the person who is following the plan, who needs to put in efforts. Talking about 2020 Yes, it was a very different year in the sense that we could not go out, everyone was scared for the most part and gyms were closed but still instead of working out, we actually started working in and improving our health. So we have done nutrition work around home workouts and have worked on mindfulness, which was a big one for us, and me and my team and that’s how I do it”.

Talking about the risky problems of losing weight by eating the wrong food and going on crash diets, Yash Swami said, “I always like backing everything up with science, anecdotes and experience. Still, the cool part about my coaching processes is that I have made massive amounts of mistakes, which my clients would potentially make. So they can actually relate to me. Apart from that, I like backing everything with science and evidence because it’s easy to not trust a person, but it is not easy to not trust science if that makes sense. Apart from that, yes, there are a lot of facts or a lot of people propagating wrong stuff due to misinformation or maybe lack of knowledge”.

“Every transformation is special to me, every client is special to me. We have helped people from different niches, different people having different kinds of issues. So transformations are very versatile from the age group of 16, to we have people up to the age of  60 years” he added. 

Speaking about the fitness modules he offered, Yash mentioned,“If someone is coaching under me, my goal is that everything in their life should improve, not just the way they look. So from health markers to mental health, I’m a big fan of mindfulness, meditation, and all these things, I try to implicate each and everything. ”

In response to a question related to the rising stress in people’s lives due to the job loss in the covid, he suggested, “First, make sure you are inhaling deep and exhaling even deeper. The second pointer is managing your thoughts, whenever you have a stressor, you need to address it because sooner or later it will actually catch up. So basically finding the stressor and working around it. And if we cannot work around it, then maybe not stressing over it. Third, a big one, it’s more like spiritual staying in the present moment because all of our worries come either from regrets of the past or anxiousness about the future. So, staying in the present moment meditation is essentially doing that.”

On a concluding note, he shared his fitness mantra and said, “One thing which I would say is that fix your nutrition and honestly, I cannot sum it up by just saying that. It’s nutrition, training, sleep mindset, managing stress, these would be the ones and also working on mindset because like I mentioned that this is something which has on you can, this cannot be gifted, this cannot be bought.”

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Udai Kothi offers a futuristic view of Udaipur: Samar Vijay Singh, Director, Hotel Udai Kothi

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Samar Vijay Singh

Samar Vijay Singh, Director, Hotel Udai Kothi recently joined NewsX for a special conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. Recognised for excellence in the hospitality industry, Udai Kothi is a stunningly modern hotel with all of the amenities and luxuries that a 21st-century traveller might dream of. Though Udai Kothi is modern at heart, the concept has gone to great lengths to provide all of the architectural and decorative features that make living in Udaipur so enjoyable.

Samar shared the concept behind the Udai Kothi and said, “So it’s an old property and the land was given to my great grandfather, but it was from 1928. So that time, it was all in ruins, nothing was there like no architecture, nothing. So my father shifted to Udaipur from Chittorgarh in 2000. When he came over with an idea that we should start a boutique hotel, so he made everything from a scratch”.

When asked about the USP which made Udai Kothi different from others, Samar said, “ I think Udai Kothi offers a very futuristic view of all the major attractions, for example, city Palace, Lake palace, Sajangarh even Bagore ki haveli. You can see all from the rooftops and especially Udai Kothi’s main USP was rooftop swimming pools. So we were the first one to start the rooftop swimming pool concept in Udaipur, so that was the main USP. You got featured on your feet also featured in Conde Nast that even New York Times feature us in 2003”.

Speaking about the Baromasi, which is already gaining a lot of popularity among the youngsters, he describes, “so basically Baromasi means 12 months in Rajasthani, so Baromasi basically the name was given by my mother so it’s a concept is about you know our star signs and a bar was is basically a Tapas Bar which started in 2019 we can throw an idea so this is basically a roof just lying bacon like nothing was happening there. We made a bar and then me and my dad had a crazy idea that we thought let’s make a see-through glass floor with a pool. We only had a pool barracks. We should see guys like a glass floor people can walk through. So that’s how it became a nice good selling point, it’s almost 200 covers the restaurant a lot and it’s the only place which is like opening till around 2 am to 1:30 am the only pub you know the biggest in the city.” 

When asked about his journey in the hospitality industry, He expressed, “Earlier, I was never interested in Hospitality, that was my family being into, like politics, everything from the thought so they always wanted me to be like inclined into politics, but my father always had a passion for hospitality, but I’m more of an event sort of programs”.

He added, “2020 has been the toughest year like you know, nobody imagined how it would be especially for the tourism sector, Udai Kothi was always popular with foreign nationals, especially French clients and till we used to get from like in six different cities. So 2020 happened and like, fortunately, we had Baromasi which had the youngsters are buzzing about it in all are so famous place, they’re so used to government or wedding just to happen, but the good thing was like with Udai Kothi being a 60 room property, not a big property or like not many rooms inventory is that so, we were fortunate enough to have thought of like wedding venues or sangeet”

On a parting note, He talked about his inspirations and said, “ I’m a being big comic book fan always. So I think I look up to especially Batman being my role, especially my father, of course, like, you know, he’s made me everything and I see values and great Maharana Kumbha. Everyone knows about Maharana Pratap but people don’t know how great Maharana Kumbha was, so I see these three people.”

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College Brew is a place where you can get all the information about college applications: Anjali Raghbeer, MD, Writers Qi

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Anjali Raghbeer, Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Writers Qi, recently joined NewsX for a conversation as part of its special segment NewsX India A-List. With Writers Qi, Anjali has been helping students to achieve their dream of gaining a world-class education. She does so by making the college application process, both easy and fun. In the exclusive interview, Anjali talks to us at length about WritersQi, her journey so far as an educational consultant, the upcoming educational fair called ‘College Brew 1.0’, and more.

Speaking about Writers Qi and how she helps students to opt for the right college, Anjali said, ”I run WritersQi, it is an educational consultancy and we are based in Delhi. Much before the lockdown began, we have always had international clients from Singapore, US and the UK.  I help the students with their college application journey and students come to me  as early as Grade 9. I personally feel that grade 9 and 10 should be taken slower so that the children don’t have burnout by the time that the applications are actually going out. The bulk of the work is done when one is in the 11th grade and grade 12 is when you end up applying for the colleges. I have been doing this for the last 6 years and I am very passionate about it. It fits really well with my writing background, that’s how I got into it and I really enjoy it.”

Writers Qi also advises students on which courses would be good for them. Anjali emphasised, ”When students come to me from Grade 10 onwards, the first thing that we do is give them a psychometric test, which is an aptitude test about where the child is best suited. As per that, we build the profile of the child by always keeping in mind what the interest and passion of the child is. I think it is very important to co-relate that and not have a manufactured result on the basis of what the colleges are looking for. I think it is very important to note what they are interested in and then make them passionate about what they are doing and eventually of course help them in shortlisting colleges. We do it on the basis of Dream-Target-Safety. Dream could be the college that one wants to get in, targets could be what we think is best suited for them, and then, of course, you want some safety and fallback option.”

Talking about College Brew, an endeavour of Writers Qi, to help students coming from different backgrounds to gain insights from global experts and counsellors with a series of webinars and events, Anjali expressed” College Brew is a baby of the lockdown. When the lockdown happened, one needed ways to reach out to people. I started doing these webinars. Since the world was absolutely closed, I think i had a lot of access to great resources such as NYU and Georgetown. So many people came on-board and there were happy to go on this platform. Then, it took a journey of its own. It has been almost a year now since we did the webinars consistently every month. College Brew is the mother of it all. We are using all of it under one platform on one day.”

She added, “College Brew is basically a series of talks with about 12 talk sessions in a day held by several experts. We have got Viral Doshi from Mumbai, who is a world-class counsellor. He will be coming to the platform to talk about applications. We have got people talking about the psychometric tests, some experts from the UK and the US, then people from ‘University of Sydney’ who will talk to students about the opportunities in Australia, Ashoka talking about India. So, we have tried to give it a mix of everything. There will also be workshops on SATs by experts, who will help you with your application process. If you are thinking of applying to an IVY league, it is better to start the process early and this is a place where you can come in and get all the information you require. And, we have got a tremendous response and have received over 500 registrations already”

On being asked if people are preferring one country over another for college applications and whether the pandemic has changed the priorities of people, Anjali responded, “Not really. People who are aspiring to go abroad are anyway aspiring. Everyone wants to go to the best. The US is still a very coveted place. There is a lot of interest in UK, more so than pre-lockdown. That’s why we are bringing experts from there.”

When prodded further on whether there is a session at College Brew that she is really looking forward to and will be the most useful to students, Anjali said, “The way i structured it is, anybody from any kind of stage wherever they want to apply, they can come and get something out of it. If someone is in Grade 9, i recommend the psychometric testing and a session with Viral Doshi. This will help them get an overview about how to progress. For students in Grade 12, we got workshop in writing and we have got an expert from UCLA who will be giving the workshop. I have two companies who will be speaking about research opportunities. If someone is a design student, i have got a person who will be talking about how to build your portfolio as well as special one-on-one sessions. If you are interested in food, we have got an expert. We have tried to bring everything under one umbrella so that whatever your interest might be, there will be something for you there.”

Addressing the question of grants and scholarships and whether there would be a session on this particular subject at the College Brew, Anjali said, “Unfortunately, we couldn’t put that together. But, I’m sure Mr Doshi would be answering those sort of questions.”

On a parting note, she spoke about what made her get into the field of counselling. ”I think it has to do with the writing background because I studied writing and did a lot of creative writing courses.  I have also done a lot of children’s books. People used to come to me seeking assistance with their college essays. While helping them out, I sort of decided to get into the field and started doing it on a full scale rather than doing just bits and bobs. I found it so fulfilling because a lot of my students have won full scholarships and it has really been rewarding, in that sense.”  Anjali stated.

To enroll for College Brew 1.0 – the Virtual Education Fair, register at this link: https://www.airmeet.com/e/4dec93b0-8b95-11eb-adfc-b1c12ad96800. 

You can also access the CBI Brochure here.

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MRS WORLD ARRESTED FOR SNATCHING CROWN OFF MRS SRI LANKA, INJURING HER

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Colombo Police on Thursday arrested the current “Mrs World” on charges of assault over an on-stage fracas in which she pulled the crown off the head of the new “Mrs Sri Lanka”.

Caroline Jurie snatched the crown off Pushpika de Silva minutes after she was declared “Mrs Sri Lanka 2020” at a Sunday gala at Colombo’s Nelum Pokuna theatre.

Jurie was previous year’s “Mrs Sri Lanka” and had gone on to win the “Mrs World” competition organised by a California-based company.

Pushpika de Silva needed hospital treatment after the incident, seen by stunned spectators in a packed theatre as well as a live social media audience.

“We have arrested Jurie and (her associate) Chula Manamendra in connection with a charge of assault and causing damage to Nelum Pokuna (theatre),” senior police official Ajith Rohana said.

As seen in the video posted on YouTube by Colombo Gazette, Pushpika was announced as the winner as Caroline Jurie crowned her. Seconds later, Caroline appeared on stage again and said that Pushpika was disqualified since she is a divorcee and only married women can hold the title of Mrs Sri Lanka.

“There is a rule that you have to be married and not divorced. So, I am taking my first steps saying that the crown goes to the first runner-up,” Caroline said as she snatched the crown from Pushpika’s head and presented it to the first runner-up.

Pushpika, visibly upset, walked out. The video has gone viral with over 12 lakh views so far.

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Pushpika narrated the incident and said, “I think, for the first time in the history of beauty pageant, not in Sri Lanka but in the world, even though my crown has been snatched in front of everyone insultfully, I will keep my head straight at this moment of writing and say that I am proud and proud as before. This is just another incident for me.”

She also added, “On the other hand, I’m not a divorced woman. I say with great responsibility that I am not a divorced woman even at this moment of writing. If I was a divorcee, I would dare them to submit my divorce scripts.”

Pushpika told reporters outside the Cinnamon Gardens police station in Colombo Thursday that she was ready to drop charges if Jurie made a public apology, but she had refused. “I tried to end this out of court, but she has refused,” Pushpika said. “I can forgive, but not forget.”

There was no immediate comment from Jurie or her lawyer. Police sources said a court hearing was likely next week and Jurie and her associate who crashed onto the stage on Sunday could be granted bail later Thursday.

Jurie had claimed that Pushpika was divorced and therefore ineligible for the prize. To qualify for the title, contestants must be married. Pushpika is estranged from her husband, but they are still legally married.

Organisers said they were claiming compensation from Jurie for damages to the stage and backstage dressing rooms where several mirrors had been smashed. Jurie has also been accused by organisers of bringing disrepute to the event.

With agency inputs

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ROAD SAFETY WORLD SERIES HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE, SAYS YASH SARDESAI

CEO of Sri Lanka Legends says he had a good learning background from Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

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Yash Sardesai, CEO of Sri Lanka Legends, and Tillakaratne Dilshan, Captain of Sri Lanka Legends, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of the NewsX India A-List. Sri Lanka Legends is currently competing in the Road Safety World Series 2021. Sharing his journey as the CEO of Sri Lanka Legends, Yash described how it happened, but had to stop in between due to the pandemic.

“Everything is in the ongoing continuation. It has been a great and wonderful experience altogether. I had got a wonderful platform and a good learning background from Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara,” Sardesai added.

Talking about getting back on field post retirement, Tillakaratne Dilshan, former captain of the Sri Lanka national cricket team, said, “It’s a great feeling because after a long time, we are sharing the same dressing room with past cricketers and official cricketers like Sachin Siva; we used to play IPL and it feels like we are playing international cricket again, especially in India.”

Often regarded as one of the most innovative ODI batsmen of all time, Dilshan shared how it feels to be playing post the pandemic,” It was little hectic because we are stick to the room. We can’t go outside due to the Covid rules but it was the best time to build up our team. We are altogether playing outside, going to gym, pool, meetings. This is the bonding time I feel.”

Speaking about his bond with Sardesai, Dilshan said: “Yash and I has really good bond. Yash is everything to us. We are doing really good as a family. Tomorrow we have cooking session where Sri Lankan and Indian players are going to make lunch together. Moreover, Yash trust us a lot. Sometimes I call on him regarding what is the plan for upcoming match and he says cricket is not in my hand. Go and play cricket with your team.” He further mentioned that only the finals and semi-finals are left and the team is really looking forward to win.

Talking about the sport and how it is helping to raise road safety awareness, Sardesai said, “Cricket, which is watched all over the world, is helping create awareness by following the particular cricketers, they follow the rules as well.” Dilshan added, “Nowadays cricketers have fan pages and following them means that the message is going strongly to the people. Life is valuable to this world so we can pass this message through cricketers and it’s the main aim. I am so happy that the organisation come up with these safety measures, especially for Asian countries.”

“Last game we had with England was really amazing. We bowled out them and we chase them in seven overs. Post that game, we were all pumped up and everyone heighten up to go in semi-finals. So, we did bowl and bat really well. We are looking forward to perform in the same pattern,” Dilshad said.

On a concluding note, Yash Sardesai said that it saw really a good fan moment seeing players winning the game. “I am a big fan of cricket, but never played it on big level. And I am passionate about the game. So, this particular series helped me a lot in gaining experience. It’s a constant fan moment for me.”

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