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LAUNCHING A NEW, UNFORGETTABLE SAGA OF INDIAN CUISINES

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Recently launched and much talked about ‘SAGA: Cuisines of India’, a modern Indian restaurant, finally opens its doors to the public for a great overall culinary experience. A venture by food & beverage entrepreneur Vishal Anand in partnership with Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar, standalone restaurant SAGA boasts of one of the tallest bar displays in the world and the cocktails they do does some justice to it. “Our focus on bar is as much as on our food. We wanted to curate a unique experience for our guest and had the advantage of a 56 feet high ceiling which led to conceptualising one of the tallest bar displays in the world,” says Vishal Anand.

This combination, topped with that of ace designer Raghavendra Rathore designing the uniforms for the staff, sets the tone apart for SAGA right at the onset. It is an ambitious project, but I would say that the ambition is well worth it for two major reasons: It’s got class and it’s got taste. The décor is extremely European with high ceilings and gives us a feel of Rome or Brussels, whereas the food is regional Indian with each item handpicked from the states, and the liquor has been sourced from all over the world. The seating areas are on the ground floor, upper-level, and the alfresco section, each of which has been cleverly planned to offer the finest view of the exteriors, the outlet, as well as the band playing at the altar. What was striking for a person in me was the choice of colour—a combination of black and white for the floor and blue and brown for the seating—very unusual and bold. The other thing that attracted me as a person of literature and arts was the attention to detail—whether it was the embroidered napkins, the tasteful cutlery, the movable chandeliers or the storyteller they have on board—each aspect brings out those fine touches of creativity and imagination.

I asked Chef Kochhar about the inspiration for the food at SAGA, to which he replied: “SAGA is a modern Indian fun dining outlet with its deep roots in the Indian food culture and hospitality. Its food is all about the cuisines of India. The recipes are inspired from different regions and flavours that have crossed the boundaries of the country and made their space in a more global space. We also take inspiration from what is happening around us and reflect the same emotion through our food. At SAGA, we believe that food is a journey that one takes and we would like to be a part of that journey with you. SAGA also represents the stories that gravitate around the food, which helped the dishes to make their emotional connection with people around the world.”

My picks for the food are the Dal Moradabadi, the dry fruit stuffed naan, the Parsi Salli Boti, the Kerala Meen Ularthiyathu (King fish masala) and the Mangalorean Ghee Roast Prawns. Even though I am not a dessert person, I was pleasantly surprised to have the Bengali Brûlée, which I think they have nailed in terms of the ingredients, taste and presentation. For a place that boasts about having one of the world’s tallest bars, the drinks menu has to be “tall”. Taking off from the cuisines of India, the beverage menu is massive and truly global. From the choicest single malts to champagnes to wines classified by countries, the alcohol menu is vast and impressive, but also affordable. However, their signature cocktail range is inspired from the regions of India, my picks being the Maharaja Sour with whiskey as the base, Mysore Mahal (gin and gooseberry) and Nishat Bagh (aged rum and raspberry liqueur).

Vishal Anand is a self-confessed music buff, which can be seen in the state-of-the-art equipment with installations of speakers and woofers at different levels in SAGA. The well-placed JBL concert speakers—the first-of-its-kind for any restaurant—are what sets the place apart. Even though the time of opening may have been slightly risky, they team has put in a lot of thought and taken the pains to go that extra mile to ensure that SAGA is here for the long run and it is all set to become one of the better-known places in the city for a great dining experience.

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DEEPIKA PADUKONE RESIGNS AS MAMI CHAIRPERSON CITING ‘CURRENT SLATE OF WORK’

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood star Deepika Padukone on Monday announced her departure from Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). She issued a statement on social media informing fans that she is no longer going to continue as the Chairperson of MAMI.

The ‘Padmaavat’ actor took to her Instagram handle and posted a story announcing the news. She wrote, “Being on the board of MAMI and serving as Chairperson has been a deeply enriching experience. As an artist, it was invigorating to bring together cinema and talent from all over the world to Mumbai, my second home.” Further, Deepika gave her reason for leaving the academy and wrote, “I have come to realise, however, that with my current slate of work, I will be unable to give MAMI the undivided focus and attention it requires. I depart knowing that MAMI is in the best hands possible and that my bond and connection with the academy is one that will last a lifetime.”

MAMI is a public trust that annually organizes the international film festival in Mumbai, known as the Mumbai Film Festival. In 2019 Deepika had replaced filmmaker Kiran Rao as its chairperson. Meanwhile, the 35-year-old actor has an impressive line-up of projects in the pipeline including ‘83’, ‘Baiju Bawra’, ‘Fighter’, ‘Sanki’, ‘Pathan’, and Indian adaptation of Nancy Meyers’s 2015 hit Hollywood film ‘The Intern’.  

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AKSHAY RETURNS HOME FROM HOSPITAL, TWINKLE SAYS ‘ALL IZ WELL’

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, who had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, and was later hospitalised as a precautionary measure, has returned home on Monday.

Akshay’s wife and author Twinkle Khanna shared the news on her Instagram account. She posted a monochromatic caricature of Akshay and herself in which the couple can be seen posing for the camera together against the backdrop of a room. In the cartoon version, Akshay looks dapper in a sweatshirt, shirt and pants, Twinkle is wearing a dress and is holding her book titled ‘Mrs Funny Bones’.

In the caption, she wrote, “Safe and sound and good to have him back around. #allizwell.”

On April 4, Akshay had revealed that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was under home quarantine. The 53-year-old actor took to his Twitter handle and shared his diagnosis, informing fans that he was following all the necessary protocols.

“I wish to inform everyone that, earlier this morning, I have tested positive for COVID-19. Following all the protocols, I have immediately isolated myself,” he wrote.

Hoping to get back in action soon, he added, “I am under home quarantine and have sought necessary medical care. I would request all those who have come in contact with me to get themselves tested and take care. Back in action very soon!” 

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PAVAIL GULATI JOINS AMITABH BACHCHAN-STARRER ‘GOODBYE’

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NEW DELHI: The latest addition to the much-talked-about film, ‘Goodbye’, is actor Pavail Gulati. The star has joined previously announced cast members including Amitabh Bachchan, Neena Gupta and Rashmika Mandanna.

Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Instagram handle on Monday. He wrote, “PAVAIL GULATI JOINS AMITABH – RASHMIKA STARRER… #PavailGulati – last seen in #Thappad – signed for #Goodbye… Stars #AmitabhBachchan, #RashmikaMandanna and #NeenaGupta… Directed by Vikas Bahl… Produced by #Balaji Telefilms and #Reliance Entertainment… Filming has commenced.”

Pavail, who was last seen in ‘Thappad’ as Taapsee Pannu’s onscreen husband, will be essaying the role of Big B’s son in the movie. Interestingly, this is not the first time that the talented actor is working with Amitabh. He has earlier shared screen space with the veteran actor in ‘Yudh’, the television series that aired in 2014.

Meanwhile, Neena will be essaying the role of Big B’s wife. This is the first time Neena and Amitabh will be seen opposite each other in a film.

An ecstatic Pavail, who began shooting for the movie today, shared, “Goodbye is a very special film for me with my very special friends. Absolutely thrilled and excited to be part of it. What makes it even more special is to get an opportunity to work with a legend like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan sir again. It is indeed an amazing feeling.”

The actor added, “This is my second collaboration with Balaji Telefilms, Ekta and Ruchikaa and I couldn’t be happier about this reunion. Can’t wait to embark on this exciting journey and I’m certain it’s going to be a fun riot shooting with Rashmika and Amitabh sir.”

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PRIYANKA CHOPRA STUNS FANS IN RED CARPET AVATAR FOR BAFTA 2021

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LONDON: Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Sunday stunned fans with her red carpet look for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards 2021.

The ‘Baywatch’ actor took to Instagram and posted pictures in which she looked drop-dead gorgeous as the actor aced the fashion game for the prestigious event.

The pictures see the ‘Isn’t It romantic’ actor in a fish-cut black dress with a plunging neckline that had an accentuated fabric across the waist, in the shape of a butterfly. The actor looks charismatic as she donned a minimal makeup look and aced the red lip colour. The long dress had put the actor’s toned figure on display, as she seems all set to present an award at the award ceremony. The actor has tied her hair in a neat bun.

The actor left a butterfly emoticon in the caption to all the posts featuring her red carpet look.

For the unversed, the ‘Fashion’ star’s film she has co-produced and acted in, titled ‘The White Tiger’, is competing in two categories.

The lead actor of the film- Adarsh Gourav- has been nominated for the best actor in a leading role. The film, also featuring Rajkummar Rao, has also received a nomination for director Ramin Bahrani in the adapted screenplay category.

Earlier, Priyanka has also announced Oscar 2021 nominees along with husband-singer Nick Jonas.

On the work front, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is currently shooting for the spy series ‘Citadel’. It also stars Richard Madden. The project is backed by Amazon and helmed by the Russo Brothers of ‘Avengers’ fame.

The actor has finished shooting ‘Text for You’ with Sam Heughan, Celine Dion, Russell Tovey, and Omid Djalili. Priyanka will also be seen in an Indian wedding comedy with Mindy Kaling, which she will co-produce and feature in.

She also has ‘Matrix 4’ and a film based on the life of Maa Anand Sheela in the pipeline.

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BAFTA AWARDS 2021: ‘MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM’ PICKS TWO AWARDS

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LONDON: The unconventional 74th edition of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) held its first of two ceremonies on April 10, with the second one scheduled for the subsequent day. ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ was the big winner on the opening night, taking home two golden masks.

According to Variety, the first night of the 2021 BAFTAs, which was hosted virtually from London’s Royal Albert Hall by TV and BBC radio presenter Clara Amfo, was a mostly craft-centered affair that also yielded wins for ‘Mank’, ‘Tenet’ and ‘Sound of Metal’. During the ceremony, eight primarily craft-focussed awards were handed out, including casting, costume, makeup and hair, production design, sound, special visual effects, British short film, and British short animation. The remaining awards — including the performance and best film categories will be handed out on the second night.

‘Rocks’ was the first winner, with Lucy Pardee scooping the award for Casting. The UK indie movie was nominated for a leading seven BAFTAs this year, joint most with ‘Nomadland’, which is a hot favourite for the Best Film prize on the second night.

Director and writer Noel Clarke, best known for the ‘Kidulthood’ film trilogy were honoured with the outstanding British contribution to cinema award. Supporting actor nominee Leslie Odom Jr. performed ‘Speak Now’, his Oscar-nominated song from One Night in Miami, for which he has earned a best-supporting actor BAFTA nomination.

Unsurprisingly, Netflix had a good evening, following its mammoth 34 nominations, by far the leading number for a distributor this year. The streamer took home prizes including Costume Design and Hair & Make-up, which both went to ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s’, and Production Design, which was scooped by ‘Mank’.

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MEGHAN MARKLE WILL NOT JOIN PRINCE HARRY AT PRINCE PHILIP’S FUNERAL

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WASHINGTON: Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh- Prince Philip, his grandson Prince Harry is set to reunite with his family to pay his last respects at the funeral, but without wife Meghan Markle.

Page Six confirmed that the Duchess of Sussex who is due to give birth to the couple’s second child, a girl, in early summer will stay home in California on her doctor’s advice, Buckingham Palace announced. A source close to the royals told that Markle hoped to be at his husband’s side, but the trip, and the 12-hour flight, were deemed potentially too taxing.

“The Duke of Sussex is planning to attend. The Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel. So the duke will be attending,” a royal spokesman said, using Harry’s other title. Harry who currently resides in California with his wife Meghan Markle and son Archie Harrison will likely be in attendance at the service, which is set to take place at his and Meghan’s wedding venue, St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Page Six reported that the funeral will be an intimate affair, limited to 30 participants under strict UK social-distancing rules.

Even PM Boris Johnson will not attend the mourning ceremony, so as to allow space for as many royal family members as possible.

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