MUMBAI: In addition to marking the onset of a New Year, Lohri 2021 holds special significance for Pulkit Samrat. He has begun shooting for his next film, ‘Suswagatam Khushamadeed’ on Wednesday which is long due because of the pandemic that hit us in 2020. Pulkit was quoted as saying, “We are shooting for a dance number today. I am facing the camera exactly after a year on a film set and I can’t tell you how refreshing it feels to be back on set.”
The ‘Taish’ actor claims that it is going to be quite an eventful day for the Samrats. He elaborates, “My sister just got married, so it’s her first Lohri post-wedding. It’s an auspicious occasion in a Punjabi household. I will be connecting with my family later in the day over a video call to celebrate the day. They are extremely excited and walk around the house with the phone in their hand all day!”
As Pulkit fondly talks about his sister, the actor gets nostalgic about celebrating the festival as a kid. Reminiscing his childhood days the ‘Pagalpanti’ actor adds, “I grew up in a joint family and distinctly recall how they would gather planks of wood from the old furniture in the house. Lohri ki date toh pata nahi hoti thi but the moment I saw my family gathering wood I would realise that the festival is approaching. I used to be highly amused when I saw a pyramid being set up using the wood, which is then lit up. I would try to make one myself with the wooden planks but would fail miserably. It was fun doing the rounds of the holy fire while throwing peanuts and gajak into it.”
He shares, “Kriti is half-Punjabi and half-South Indian, so it’s a double celebration for her as Pongal is on 14 January. However, she is busy shooting. Coincidentally, it is the last day of her shoot and the first day of mine, both memorable days for us.” The other family member who’s super excited during such a special occasion is Pulkit’s pet Drogo. The actor says, “Drogo is a part of all our celebrations. Whenever he hears us wishing anyone Happy Birthday, even on the phone, he gets super excited as he assumes he will be given some delicious treats. For him, a celebration is peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, cake, and a new toy.”
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FREE FROM NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS, ‘BHUVAN SHOME’ IS AN UNDISPUTED MASTERWORK
MUBI is known for bringing cinematic classics back in limelight. The platform has started the New Year 2021 by showcasing a rare gem of Indian cinema, the 1969 classic by the legendary Mrinal Sen, for cinephiles in India as well as abroad. Sen, who was one of the leading filmmakers of India’s Parallel Cinema, made ‘Bhuvan Shome’ with a shoestring budget. Little did he know at the time that over the years the film will become synonymous with his name. ‘Bhuvan Shome’ tells the story of the isolated life of its eponymous character, Bhuvan Shome, which is essayed by the great Utpal Dutt. Shome Sahab, as he is called by the narrator (Amitabh Bachchan making his film debut as the film’s voice narrator) is a Bengali bureaucrat. He is a lonely widower and a strict disciplinarian who has spent his life working for the Indian Railways. He has zero tolerance for the corrupt or the incompetent. As informed by the narrator, once he even went to the extent of firing his own son. ‘Bhuvan Shome’ is widely regarded by film critics and scholars across the world as an important work of cinema. Let’s try and examine its deceptively simple narrative.
At the most basic level, ‘Bhuvan Shome’ can be described as a film about a man’s bird hunting adventure on the shores of Saurashtra—a flourishing region located on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat. Bored by his monotonous office routine, one day Shome Sahab decides to go on a bird hunting trip to Saurashtra. The theme of hunting is often associated with the elite, upper-class people trying to overcome their boredom. The bird hunting expedition in ‘Bhuvan Shome’ harks to Jean Renoir’s ‘The Rules of the Game’ (1939).
At another level, the film can be seen as a powerful character study of a strict bureaucrat who finds it difficult to survive the moment he steps outside the comforts of his cocooned existence. The film can also be looked upon as a treatise on human solitude and longing for companionship. Doomed to live in solitude, Shome Sahab, trapped in an alien land, quickly realises that he has inadvertently pushed himself a bit too far out of his comfort zone. It soon becomes a journey of self-realisation for Shome Sahab who gradually learns to appreciate the importance of the human company.
Yet another way to approach ‘Bhuvan Shome’ is as a social commentary on the great rural-urban divide in India. While a powerful bureaucrat like Shome Sahab living in the city is cruel to everyone around him, the people in the village are friendly and helpful even to the strangers. It is also a film about human camaraderie and trust. How a beautiful village girl named Gauri (essayed by Suhasini Mulay) leaves everything aside to help a total stranger whom she sees as her guest. How Shome Sahab begins to blindly trust the young girl during his bird hunting expedition. Now, some have even commented on the undercurrent of eroticism that runs through the movie. While it is quite obvious that Shome Sahab grows fond of the young village girl, there is little in the movie that even obliquely suggests the possibility of any sexual attraction.
Mrinal Sen’s imaginative direction is brilliantly complemented by K. K. Mahajan’s breathtaking black & white cinematography which gives the movie its soul. Mahajan brilliantly captures the vast expanses of Gujarat’s desert land, even reminding one of the majestic desert scenes from David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962). The extreme close-ups reveal a lot about the characters even before we get to hear them talk. The overhead shots of moving railway tracks, and horse/bullock carts are used to accentuate the toil associated with travel.
The editing techniques employed in the film are also quite clever. In addition to a couple of impressive montage sequences, the movie uses a lot of jump cuts and freeze-frames. There is a beautiful sequence in ‘Bhuvan Shome’ which deserves a special mention wherein Gauri pretends to be on a swing and the camera strategically zooms in and out on her, imitating the swing action. Vijay Raghav Rao’s musical pieces immensely add to the experience.
A major highlight of the film is Utpal Dutt’s unforgettable performance. Anyone who aspires to become an actor ought to study his performance in the movie very closely. A role as complex as Shome Sahab requires an actor to blend ruthlessness, vulnerability, and tenderness in equal parts, and, Dutt, of course, is up to the task. His eyes, facial expressions and body gestures together communicate a lot more than his verbal delivery. A lesser actor would have made the character look like some caricature, but, Dutt, to his credit, breathes life into it. Also, Suhasini Mulay essays the part of a rustic belle beautifully and her amiable character serves as the perfect foil for Dutt’s mean bureaucrat.
‘Bhuvan Shome’ is an undisputed masterwork of cinema and a testament to Mrinal Sen’s iconoclastic genius. It’s a kind of cinema that’s free from the conventions of plot and structure. Here is a film that can be enjoyed at so many different levels if one is willing to indulge.
MY JOURNEY HAS BEEN SPECIAL: KIARA ADVANI
MUMBAI: Kiara Advani made her Bollywood debut in 2014 with ‘Fugly’, which was a no-show at the box office. However, she was later seen in hits such as ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’, ‘Lust Stories’, ‘Kabir Singh’ and ‘Good Newwz’. The actress cannot name a particular role as a career gamechanger but credits all her work for the success she enjoys today.
“For me I think every film (mattered) — right from my first film as that is what gave me my first step into the film industry. People say ‘Kabir Singh’ and ‘Lust Stories’ but every film has been a turning point in my life. I would want every film to be like that, even my future films. So, I can’t think of just one film. My entire journey has been special,” Kiara told IANS. .She will be seen in ‘Shershaah’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and ‘Jug Jug Jeeyo’.
VINEET LEARNS THE ART OF POTTERY FOR ‘AADHAAR’
MUMBAI: Vineet Kumar Singh learnt the art of pottery for his upcoming film ‘Aadhaar’, the actor says that he has become a pro at making pots. “I spent a lot of time learning the art of pottery. It started six months before the shoot when I visited the same village in Deoghar, Jharkhand, with my director Suman Ghosh,” said Vineet. “We shot a few things at the potter’s house, who taught me the art. He told me that to make pots, you will have to rotate the wheel yourself and there is no other way to do it. I did that the first time and realised that it is not an easy thing to do. So I kept learning,” he added.
Vineet continued: “Since I have scenes in the film while doing pottery. So I tried my best to learn the basics of this beautiful craft. I started learning pottery six months prior to the shoot of ‘Aadhaar’. Now, I have become a pro at the art of making pots. Now I can rotate the potter’s wheel while talking as well. I can make items like a glass or a small pot.” Directed by Suman Ghosh, ‘Aadhaar’ tells the story of the protagonist (played by Singh) who lives in Jharkhand and how he obtains his Aadhaar number. The Drishyam Films and Jio Studios project also features Saurabh Shukla, Sanjay Mishra and Raghubir Yadav. The film is slated to release theatrically on 5 February.
THE RELEASE DATE OF PRIYANKA CHOPRA’S MEMOIR ‘UNFINISHED’ ANNOUNCED
NEW DELHI: Priyanka Chopra Jonas aptly sums up her life as: “I am a product of traditional India and its ancient wisdom, and modern India and its urban bustle. My upbringing was always an amalgamation of the two Indias, and, just as much, of East and West.”
Her memoir ‘Unfinished’ (Penguin), that will release on 9 February, takes readers from her childhood in India, where she was raised by her grandparents and her parents — two army doctors committed not only to their children but to their careers and to philanthropy – before being sent away to a boarding school at an early age; through her formative teenage years in the US living with her extended family in the Midwest (Cedar Rapids and Indianapolis), Queens, and suburban Boston, where she endured bouts of racism; to her return to India, where she unexpectedly won the national and global beauty pageants (Miss India and Miss World) that launched her acting career.
Readers looking for a glimpse into what it takes to succeed in the massive Indian film industry will find it here, and they’ll also find an honest account of the challenges Priyanka faced navigating her career, in Bollywood and Hollywood. The result is a book that is warm, funny, sassy, inspiring, bold, and rebellious. Just like Priyanka herself. From her dual-continent 20-year-long career as an actress and producer to her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, from losing her beloved father to cancer to marrying Nick Jonas, Priyanka’s story will inspire people around the world to gather their courage, embrace their ambition, and commit to the hard work of following their dreams.
HOW FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS HAVE CHANGED WITH COVID-19
This past week, many people around the country celebrated various winter harvest festivals such as Lohri, Bihu, Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Uttarayan, to name a few. These festivals have significant and even symbolic meaning for most of rural India, as aptly witnessed through the muted Lohri celebrations at the ongoing farmer protests. However, for most of India’s urban elite, these festivals are just another date on the calendar. Apart from marking the momentous first celebrations after marriages and babies, many of these minor seasonal festivals fly by unnoticed.
As with everything else in life, however, the pandemic has changed our priorities and forced us to view life differently. Festivals that previously were shoved under the radar as being cumbersome and avoidable social events, have become one of few opportunities to relive our pre-pandemic lives and experiences.
Even though we look forward to celebrating these and other occasions with gusto, we are still wary of opening our homes or interacting with large groups of people. The fixed set of invitees, therefore, are our family members! In actual fact, Indians have always given preference to family gatherings and close-knit celebrations over large and mindless socialising. The pandemic has merely reinforced an age-old practice, especially among the younger millennials and Gen-Z folk, who seemed to have lost a grip on this concept. In the last few years, they have begun turning to virtual companions to meet their emotional needs.
Nuclear families that are fortunate enough to live in the same cities as their extended families, are the ones to have become closer than ever before. Despite fear of the disease, people rarely shy away from visiting family members at the drop of a hat. Those that live away from their parents and siblings, have instituted regular virtual calls and catch-up sessions, undeterred by excessive screen fatigue.
Weddings and other important celebrations have also seen a significant change. Where previously, people would pull out all stops to host lavish and somewhat unnecessary gatherings and events; the pandemic has forced people to reduce the number of invitees to only the most essential. When it comes down to brass tacks, it is extended family members that people are most inclined to include in special occasions. Hence, the restricted 50-100 guest list mostly consists of family members.
Another interesting development has been a willing exodus of urban elite to their native homes and towns. With home-schooling and work from home seeming a long-term reality, at least till universal vaccination against Covid is achieved; people have woken up to the fact that they can function adequately from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a stable wi-fi connection. Millennials that previously had to be pushed to visit their hometowns once every few years, now see merit in camping out there during difficult times. With a paucity of good help, it is easier to share the workload of home and children, with other members living in one’s family home. The presence of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, ensures willing playmates for children otherwise bored out of their wits in their small city apartments. Further, the added advantage of fewer Covid cases in smaller towns and villages, ensures more freedom of movement outdoors as well.
Interestingly, where some nuclear families have merged with their larger families in their ancestral hometowns for extended periods, others have relocated to quieter locations indefinitely. Various smaller hill towns and Goa have become popular choices for people to camp out for months on end. They can work, study and enjoy every aspect of living the good life, in a relatively safe and Covid-resistant environment.
As we enter a new year under the shadow of this dreaded disease that took the world by storm, it will be interesting to see whether these newly-strengthened family ties remain as strong as they seem currently. If compelled to make a prediction, I feel family bonds will benefit from the boost they have received in recent times, at least in a modified manner. People will begin socialising and working from offices in a few months, but with heartfelt appreciation for everything that families offer—love, safety, companionship and overall emotional wellness.
The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and on her successful blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be found on Instagram @nooranandchawla.
Light up your life chic and conscious lighting
Home is where the heart is. Home is also where all of us spend endless hours today, working, living, loving and thriving within its four walls. No wonder, even when the best of luxe suffered during the pandemic, the one realm that actually grew was home decor… Right from buying rare art, to redoing a corner to indulging in sweet nothings, consumers said a strong yes to home design.
Artisan luxe reigned supreme as brands and designers created rooted design, ushered in from the past and brought ceremoniously to the future. Like these lights’ series by Orange Tree, that I stumbled upon and they, in a subliminal way, reminded one of the ubiquitous, nearly inane lamps you spotted within thatched roofed cottages. Yet, these added to them a touch of art deco.
Orange Tree, a brand born in craft-rich Jodhpur and brought out before the world wide web by its gen-next: Gaurav Jain and Nikita Bansal curated and created the Minoo (Paradise in Persian) Collection inspired by Art Deco and the few artist of yore whose works now grace the Museums of the World.
“As the tasteful and affluent Indian got exposed to global trends his taste palette moved towards classical and neo-classical designs. He was, in his heart, committed to Indian craftsmen but his eyes wanted to see something linear, minimal and modern.” And this is the realm that we want to own,” shares Gaurav. The Minoo series, crafted by artisans of Rajasthan, defy any India links in their taste and design.
Taking inspiration from the Art Deco movement of the 1920s, each piece from this collection is reminiscent of the positivity, playfulness, opulence, and the promise of a new future that defined this movement. “Each design is meticulously hand-made by skilled artisans. The relative simplicity, planarity, meditative symmetry and unvaried repetition of elements come together to create this range,” explains Nikita Bansal, Head of Design, Orange Tree.
Besides the fact that each piece celebrates an iconic design and art bastion. Like the Klimt Collection, which is a symbolic representation of the 19th-century art movement of Impressionism characterised by small, thin brushstrokes and shifting light.
Then there are the Chrysler Lights, sleek, conical, nickel-finished reading light and strongly influenced by the European Art Déco style and its namesake New York skyscraper. Taking forward the Art Deco inspiration, the Arch Collection features lamps with clean, bold, concentric lines. The Deco hanging lamp in the Prerit Collection is meticulously hand-woven in golden wires in meditative symmetry.
Light filters through its many layers creating an ambience of positivity in the room. Imagining a conscious future, the Monet collection honours the humble cane in the form of a simplistic floor lamp. Additionally, the beautiful cane and wood are weaved together in the stunning, geometric pendant designs of the New Kyoto Collection. Cane takes on a more glamorous form in the Wave Collection’s hanging light where the eco-friendly material is woven into an innovative 3D wave pattern that is sure to add panache to your favourite corner.
And on a lasting note is the sustainable series—paper mache and meenakari—two stunning examples of eco-friendly craft techniques, to their repertoire of chic and conscious lighting. So, are you ready to get lit?
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