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CALL OF THE WILD

After being cooped up for months at home, chasing a tiger’s call through the mystery-laden Ranthambore jungles, locking eye balls with a crocodile on the Chambal river, and eating dinner with royalty under the stars may seem fantastical, but it may just be the adventure you need.

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It could have been a scene straight out of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Two Brothers, a film about two tigers Kumal and Sangha. The sun moves towards his place of rest casting a golden glow on every piece of free creation, turning the whole space an unreal verdant moss colour. Dusk settles in on the cool evening, creating an almost surreal glow on the shimmering tree leaves. Frogs exercise their vocal chords almost as if they have rehearsed their musical piece to outdo each other in a guttural jugalbandi, while crickets sing in unison. Birds direct your eyes from one bunch of glowing leaves to another. At the end of our drive through the jungle, where we have crossed paths with a herd of sambhars and chatted and fed some colourful parakeets, and have almost given up hope of any real adventure, we are stopped in our tracks by a heart-plummeting wild call.

Our guide and the driver exchange one look, reverse the vehicle off the path and turn around. With his foot pushed hard on the accelerator, the driver flies the vehicle on the dangerously uneven winding jungle roads, through rustling trees, as we hold on for dear life, chasing the call of the tiger. Yet another deep guttural call comes from the other side. Our vehicle slices through the almost physical sound waves to reach a center point. Where the driver kills the engine. We wait in eerie silence. The world comes to an almost pandemic like standstill. And then we see it. The majestic tiger walking towards us in all its beauty. A collective taking in of breaths and all eyes are transfixed on the tiger as he languidly walks towards us. We are in his territory. And he looks right into my eyes. I do not want the blood of my family on my hands, so I suppress the rising blood-curdling scream deep in my throat, almost choking in the bargain. As I gasp for breath, he walks past the vehicle, to the other side of the jungle. That gaze stays with me for a long, long time. As anyone who has locked eyes with a tiger will tell you, the experience is surreal, at the very least.

THE WILD AND THE SURREAL

As we drive out of the jungle still in a daze, the magnificent Nahargarh Palace Fort looms ahead, as if magically rising out of the sands. The surreal does not desert us. This stunning fort palace, which every year is the setting for the Music and Wildlife Festival, invites us in through a large fort gate into a world of yore. Visible from the entry gate is the majestic building, built around three courtyards, numerous gardens and fountains. A 21st century fort built organically by Gaj Singh of the Alsisar family, is unique as Gaj Singh explains, “Rajasthan has always been about preserving legacies; this fort is all about creating one.” We chat next to a fountain in a beautifully designed courtyard, surrounded by trees, turrets and arches, regal yet decidedly relaxed and languid. The architecture is balanced and elegant in its simplicity. Despite the magnitude of the property, it does not overwhelm you, but quietly and seductively beckons you into its various spaces.

The predominant feeling is that of spacious outdoors. Which works well for today’s times when indoor, air-conditioned spaces are to be avoided. In fact, the safety measures start right from the time your vehicle approaches the fort palace gates. Temperatures are checked. You are greeted at a safe distance and since you are required to send all details while booking, the transfer takes place quickly in a large open area. All surfaces, handles, rooms, linen, toiletries are sanitized every day. The spacious open-air public spaces are perfect for keeping social distance while you wind down in this calm, spacious resort.

Ranthambore boasts of many such wonderful resorts and camps that extend the excitement of the outdoors while giving you an experience of the famous royal hospitality of Rajasthan. From Taj and Oberoi to standalone resorts, lodges and camps, there is a wide variety to suit every taste and fit any pocket.

Nahargarh has a special magic that in safer times, has wooed many artists to perform there. From Farhan Akhtar to Rasika Shekar to electronic music star Gully boy Naezy to folk artists Arko Mukherjee and sufi singer Mame Khan, the mesmerising spaces at the fort palace have been filled with soulful music and an energy all its own, many foggy winters. Even now, as the sun sets, its mysterious spaces seem to gather an energy of their own.

A special dinner is laid out at the beautifully lit Hathi Kund (the stepwell pool). Banana leaves rustle in the wind, lights glow in niches all around and water ripples into patterns as marble elephants preside over the pond. The stunning beauty of the place transports you to a magical land, where the dazzling canopy of stars watches over you while you experience a meal so divine you could well be in heaven. The magic of this trip has many dimensions, as we soon discover, where you trapeze delicately between the wild and the surreal almost as in a dream. 

THE SAVAGE AND THE SERENE

At dawn or dusk, you could take a trip to the jungle and if you are as lucky as I was, a tiger might cross your path. The Ranthambore National Park is home to no less than 71 tigers, tigresses and cubs, many with legendary stories, that the rangers will be only too happy to divulge. You could also visit the magnificent thousand-year-old Ranthambore fort on the hill, where you could chase stories of passion, romance and valour lurking in the turrets and corridors, even as you look down on a breathtaking view of the Ranthambhore jungles.  If you feel more adventurous you could book a boat ride on the Chambal river and lock eyeballs with the sitting-to-stare-you-out crocodiles. The serene boat ride on calm waters in the midst of a vast languid landscape at dawn can lull you into a dreamy state. Till an urgent whisper wakes you out of your smiley stupor and you find your guide pointing at a family of ghariyals (crocodiles) crawling on the riverbeds sleepily welcoming the sun. Your heart may do a quick beat or two at the sight of these magnificent creatures. Their savage beauty may well beat you into silence, but If luck favours you, you might get to witness the gentle beauty of the Gangetic dolphin leading you a merry dance up the river, while you try to identify the many beauteous birds on the water through your binoculars.

Once back from this exciting experience, a sumptuous beer brunch in the soft autumn sunshine in the courtyard awaits, followed by a long walk in the picturesque lawns and an amazing spa session.

The atmosphere is languid, the vibe magical, the landscape vast, the tiger majestic, the experience surreal. A mere 350 odd kilometres from Delhi, awaits this unique celebration of wildlife and nature—probably one of the few places one can drive down to rejuvenate oneself in today’s times.

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Comedian Raju Srivastava on Ventilator support after suffering heart attack

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Raju Srivastava

Comedian Raju Srivastava on Wednesday suffered from a heart attack after which he underwent angioplasty and now is on ventilator support.

According to sources Raju is “responding to the treatment”.

Comedian Srivastava’s health deteriorated on Tuesday night after which he suffered from a heart attack.

Reportedly, Srivastava fell unconscious when he was working out on a treadmill at the gym. Later he felt severe chest pain and then collapsed after which his trainer brought him to the hospital.

Earlier on Wednesday, Comedian Sunil Pal said that Srivastava’s health is good now. He is recovering rapidly and will be home soon.

Meanwhile, just hours before Srivastava suffered a heart attack he shared a stand-up comedy piece on his Instagram. He mimicked a few veteran actors on information being spread on Covid-19 via caller tune on the phones.

However, Srivastava got recognition by participating in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge and Big Boss. He has done roles in films like Bombay to Goa, and Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya. Moreover, Srivastava is also the chairman of the Uttar Pardesh Film Division Board.

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Comedian Raju Srivastava suffers heart attack, admitted to AIIMS

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Raju Srivastava

Comedian Raju Srivastava has suffered a heart attack and has been admitted to AIIMS, Delhi. Comedian Srivastava’s health deteriorated last night after which he suffered from a heart attack.

Srivastava fell unconscious when he was working out on a treadmill at the gym. Later he felt severe chest pain and then collapsed after which his trainer brought him to the hospital.

According to comedian Sunil Pal Srivastava’s health is good now. He is recovering rapidly and will be home soon.

Meanwhile, just hours before Srivastava suffered a heart attack he shared a stand-up comedy piece on his Instagram. He mimicked a few veteran actors on information being spread on Covid-19 via caller tune on the phones.

However, Srivastava got recognition by participating in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He has done roles in films like Bombay to Goa, and Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya. Moreover, Srivastava is also the chairman of the Uttar Pardesh Film Division Board.

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Taapsee Pannu’s ‘Shabaash Mithu’ to stream on Voot Select; streaming date awaited

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Taapsee Pannu

Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu’s film ‘Shabaash Mithu’ is all set to stream on OTT platform Voot. Recently the movie released in theaters but failed to impress the audience.

The movie is based on the life of Indian cricketer Mithali Raj. Pannu’s movie is slated to stream on Voot select in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Meanwhile, the final streaming date of the film is still awaited.

Earlier on Tuesday, Voot Select dropped a teaser of the film on Instagram. “The untold story of a fighter, an achiever, and a game changer who deserves a ‘Shabaash’ over and over again. Watch Taapsee Pannu as ace cricketer Mithali Raj, in the World Digital Premiere of Shabaash Mithu, Coming soon on #VootSelect,” Voot captioned.

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However, the movie was released on 15 July 2022 and is helmed by Sriji Mukherji.

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Scared to work on a film on Mahabharat, explains Aamir

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Aamir Khan has discussed his long-term goal of developing a movie based on the Hindu epic poem Mahabharata and stated that he is frightened to begin work on it. An ambitious plan to produce a high-budget movie based on the Mahabharata has been under development by Aamir. In fact, writer Anjum Rajabali revealed to the media in 2018 that he left the Rakesh Sharma biopic in order to concentrate on the movie, which is rumoured to have a budget of Rs 1000 crore.

“When you make a film about the Mahabharata, you’re not just making a film,” Aamir explained. “You are performing a yagya. It is not just a film, it is much more. That is why I am not ready for it yet. I am scared of bringing it out. Mahabharata will never let you down, but you may let down Mahabharata. “

Aamir previously discussed how long a movie on the epic would take, saying in an interview, “It is a longing. The task is enormous. For me, it is a dream come true. However, if I make the decision to succeed now, I will have to dedicate 20 years to it. The content is incredibly intriguing to me, but I’m afraid that if I say yes and decide to do it, five years will solely be spent on research before it can be put into practise.”

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‘If you don’t feel like watching the movie, then don’t’, Akshay Kumar reacts to boycott Raksha Bandhan trend

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Raksha Bandhan

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar is in the news these days for his film ‘Raksha Bandhan’. A campaign of boycott is being run against Kumar’s film.

Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar himself has broken the silence on this whole controversy. He said in a special conversation that if someone does not want to see this film, then do not watch it, because we live in independent India. He recently said this at a promotional event for the film in Kolkata.

“If you don’t feel like watching the movie, then don’t. It’s a free country and the film is out there, so if someone wants to watch it or not, it’s up to them. I would like to tell you, no matter which industry it is, be it the clothing industry, film industry, or anything else, all of these help the economy. But doing things like boycotting movies, it doesn’t make sense,” Kumar said.

A few days ago, Aamir Khan also expressed his views about the ongoing campaign to Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha in India.

“That Boycott Bollywood…Boycott Aamir Khan…Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha… I feel sad also because a lot of people who are saying this in their hearts believe I am someone who doesn’t like India… In their hearts, they believe that… And that’s quite untrue,” Aamir Khan said.

Earlier in 2015, Aamir Khan made a controversial statement and said, “Our country is very tolerant, but there are people who spread ill-will.” Where his wife Kiran Rao also considered leaving the country for the safety of their children.

Moreover, on 11 August Laal Singh Chadda and Raksha Bandhan will clash at the box office. Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is directed by Aanand L Rai and Aamir Khan starrer ‘Lal Singh Chaddha’ is directed by Advait Chandan.

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Abhishek Bachchan to be honored with the Leadership in Cinema Award at 13th IFFM

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Abhishek Bachchan

Actor Abhishek Bachchan will be bestowed with the leadership in Cinema Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022.

“I’m excited and looking forward to being part of celebrating all things movies and cinema in Melbourne. I’m elated to have been invited by IFFM and to be part of a festival that truly celebrates Indian cinema in all its glory. For them to confer me with the Leadership in Cinema award is truly an honor for me and I’m thankful to the jury and the team of IFFM. To be in another country celebrating Indian pride and Indian content alongside my peers in something I’m truly looking forward to,” Bachchan said.

The ‘Guru’ star will also deliver a special speech about his journey in cinema at IFFM 2022.

This year the film festival will be in its physical version after being solely virtual for the last two years.

Moreover, the festival will run from 12 August to 20 August. The festival will also hold virtual programming between 13 August to 30 August for Australian audiences. At the festival over 100 films across 23 languages are being screened.

Meanwhile, the award night will take place on the 14 August in Melbourne. The festival will be opened with the film Dobaaraa directed by Anurag Kashyap.

However, Karan Johar, Kapil Dev, Anurag Kashyap, and Vaani Kapoor are likely to attend the Film festival.

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