Q. When did you know that you had Covid-19? What was your first thought?
A. low-grade fever from the beginning of June refused to succumb to normal flu antibiotics. Then, on the sixth day, I lost my sense of smell. That is when my doctor ordered me to take the Covid test, and within hours I learnt that I was positive. My first thought was: “What the hell! I have been diligently locked down since mid-March. Have not stepped out of my house and yet…”
Q. Tell us how you fought against the disease.
A. The fever continued for another five days. Eleven days in all. I was coughing, but unlike what they say, it was not a dry cough, but phlegmatic. Medicines suggested were two days of ‘invermectol’ and doses of ‘zincovit’ and vitamin C to build immunity. In addition, I used the magical Ayurvedic anti-fever powder “Mahasudarshan” and also took turmeric milk (haldi doodh) which helped me to build immunity and get my chest to clear. While the symptoms were all mild, what was distressing was the acute tiredness and listlessness. That needed a lot of will power to overcome. Also, six-hourly monitoring of fever and oximeter readings for oxygen saturation was tedious. But doing that is absolutely essential to prevent Covid from slipping into a serious coma.
Q. What kept you motivated during this? How was your family’s support during your treatment?
A. I kept my mind sharp and did not let the illness bog me down. I was thinking of future projects and what all needed to be done. Keeping the mind positive is key to early and complete healing and tricking the virus. Family support is also key. One feels like eating light food only. And to be served hot healing food was a blessing. Also, regular WhatsApp conversations, jokes and other shares makes one feel connected and not isolated even in quarantine. The key is physical distancing not social distancing.
Q. Many people are stressed and fearful of the disease. What is your advice to them?
A. The culture of fear around the virus, the overflow of misinformation and the media hype in fanning such distress must be recognised and discounted. Most people will catch the virus, that is why it is labelled a pandemic by the WHO. But most will display only mild symptoms; while many will remain asymptomatic. Monitoring is key, and the moment oximeter readings drop, high quality medical care is urgently warranted. But for the mild-symptoms victims, home-care and local community support can do the deal. My Covid-19 mantra is: “No fear, no panic, no stigma, no discrimination.”
Q. The pandemic has put everything to an indefinite halt. The future of stagecraft too looks uncertain.
A. Yes, everything has changed, especially in the world of performances and the performing arts. The continuing need for physical distancing has put a full stop to performances. This situation may well continue into 2021. The arts community has reacted to this with hectic performances online. While that can be fulfilling to the ego, it will neither fill pockets nor stomachs. So, until we find a way of monetising online performances, my suggestion is not to give away everything for free. Lectures, sharing of experiences are ok. But performing without remuneration will kill the last vestige of dignity for the performing arts.
Zendaya to play singer Ronnie Spector in upcoming biopic
Zendaya is in talks to star in a biopic about the life and career of Ronnie Spector, The Ronettes singer known for songs like ‘Be My Baby’ and ‘The Best Part of Breakin’ Up’, that A24 and New Regency are teaming up on. Marc Platt would produce the film, and A24 has acquired the life rights for Spector and the rights to Spector’s autobiography ‘Be My Baby’, which she wrote with Vince Waldron. No director or writer is formally attached. Zendaya would also produce the film if her deal closes, and Spector would also executive produce with Johnathan Greenfield
Barry Jenkins to helm ‘The Lion King’ sequel
The Hollywood blockbuster, The Lion King, is set to have a follow-up. Barry Jenkins, who called the shots on the Oscar winning ‘Moonlight’, will direct the film. “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ‘90s, I grew up with these characters,” said Jenkins, according to a report in variety.com. “Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true,” he added. The new film will take the story of the 2019 photorealistic remake forward, rather than the 1994 animation classic. Disney is yet to announced a release date for the follow-up. According to sources, the new film will partly focus on the early years of Mufasa, the father of Simba. Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the screenplay for the 2019 movie, will return to write the follow-up.
These 6 films shaped Divya Dutta’s career
Actress Divya Dutta, who has completed 26 years in the entertainment industry, celebrated her birthday quietly with loved ones at home on 25 September.
Divya started out as a mainstream Bollywood actress in the mid-nineties but made heads turn for the first time with a small but impactful role in Pamela Rooks’ 1998 screen adaptation of Khushwant Singh’s novel, “Train To Pakistan”. Over the years, she has carved a niche as a vesatile performer who can impress in commercial as well as arthouse cinema. In conversation with IANS, the 2018 National Award (Best Supporting Actress) winner for her role in ‘Irada’ looks back at the films that changed her career completely.
Recalling the Yash Chopra film, Divya said: “By that time I had worked in a few films but the amount of recognition that I got because of ‘Veer Zaara’, never happened before. Like many others, I have grown up watching Yash Chopra’s iconic films and in my dreams, I also wanted to be a YRF heroine! Of course, that did not happen with ‘Veer Zaara’ but the way Yash Chopra ji introduced me to the commercial cinema space and the recognition I got was surreal! These days, everyone is doing substantial roles that are not so-called ‘lead roles’, nowadays the word ‘character actor’ is outdated. But 15 years ago, it was a risk for me — what if I get typecast? Everyone remembered Shabbo, though there were three superstars in the film.”
“That was the first time I have got a chance to work with Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra and it was a completely different character from Shabbo. My look, my dialogues, the section of society that the character represents — everything was an integral part of the story. It was so satisfactory,” recalled Divya. In the film, she played a sweeper named Jalebi, who comes from a lower caste and is untouchable.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
“It was such a well-written character. It was the biopic on one man but the character of his sister and her contribution in his journey is so intertwined that it became a brother-sister story! I not only got positive reviews for that role but love, admiration and reverence.”
“The character graph of Shobha that I had in the film, some of the crucial scenes with Varun (Dhawan) in the story, and the way the equation between the two changes, was all so deliciously written! (Director) Sriram (Raghavan) is such a brilliant filmmaker. I think that film was also very important in my career because, again, with a superstar like Varun Dhawan in a film, we reached out to a different set of audience that otherwise I do not get a chance to with films that are close to my heart,” said the actress.
Special 26 and Ramsingh Charlie
Apart from these films that gave her a wide exposure to the mainstream audience, Divya cites two films that are very close to her heart — ‘Special 26’ (2013) and ‘Ramsingh Charlie’, which dropped digitally a few weeks ago. “During the shoot of both these films I had to unlearn a lot in order to play these characters. Neeraj Pandey (director of ‘Special 26’) and Nitin Kakkar (‘Ramsingh Charlie’) have very different styles of working, and I had nervous energy on the first day of shoot. I think that is good energy, which made me push to an extent to bring out my best. So, these two films are very very special!,” said Divya.
Fatherhood helped Kunal play a parent in ‘Abhay 2’
Actor Kunal Kemmu says fatherhood in real life has helped him portray a father on screen. “It obviously helps because being a father in real life, one understands the equation shared between child and father,” said Kunal, who is currently seen essaying the title role in the web series, ‘Abhay 2’. He added: “However, the reel life Abhay and real-life Kunal are completely different people, which is why the narrative differs.” Kunal’s character in the show, Abhay Pratap Singh, i s a bad-tempered but brilliant investigating officer. Abhay locks horns with a psychotic criminal who has kidnapped a bunch of schoolchildren. The the show streams on OTT platform ZEE5. Kunal and his wife, actress Soha Ali Khan, have a three-year-old daughter, Inaaya.
Fashion is freedom of expression for Kangana
Actress Kangana Ranaut has shared how her fashion sense has evolved over the years, and defines fashion as freedom of expression. Kangana took to Twitter and posted then and now photos. In one photo, she is seen wearing a frock and a pearl necklace. In another, she is sitting in the front row of a fashion show. Explaining how her fashion has evolved over the years, she tweeted: “When I was a little girl I decorated myself with pearls, cut my own hair, wore thigh high socks and heels. People laughed at me.” Kangana wrote, “From being a village clown to attending front rows of London, Paris, New York Fashion weeks I realised fashion is nothing but freedom of expression.”
Most Wanted Bhai’ Salman to resume ‘Radhe’ shoot
The shooting for Salman Khan starrer ‘Radhe’ will kick off on 2 October at ND Studios in Karjat. The film’s poster has a quirky tagline ‘Your Most Wanted Bhai’. This 15-day schedule of the film will be followed by a final shoot at Mehboob Studios in Bandra for the patchwork. Along with adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) laid down by the government, the team will also take some additional precautions to ensure the safety of the cast and crew.
They will be filming in the outskirts of Mumbai and in order to avoid everyday travel, the production team has booked a hotel close to the studio, where all the crew will be stationed. Maintaining the utmost level of safety, no member would be allowed to meet any outsiders for the duration of the shoot.
A source close to the production shared, “The first round of Covid-19 tests has been taken by the entire crew and no one has tested positive. A second test will be taken by those in close proximity on the set, including the actors and the core team. The crew has also been briefed about the protocols to be followed onset through a special video to avoid last-minute confusion. Salman has been precise on having total precautions on the set, with his suggestions there will be a doctor and a special team on the set who will examine and make sure the hygiene is being taken care of.”
Sohail Khan, who is producing the film with brother Salman and brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri, stated that they are creating an air bubble and all modes of transportation will be regularly sanitised. He said, “We are happy that Radhe shoot is about to resume. We have ensured to provide a safe and secure environment for the entire crew of the film. All departments will have to test for Covid-19. We are creating an air bubble. All modes of transportation will be sanitized. A health and safety officer along with a doctor and ambulance will be present on the set. Signages and colour bands for bifurcation will be maintained and followed.”
He further added, “A second test will also be taken for those in close proximate to the set, actors and core team on the film. All government mandates, insurances are being strictly followed throughout. A team has been inducted especially of trained personnel to dispose of the PPE kits and masks after use in the correct manner as per guidelines provided.” Apart from Salman and his leading lady, Disha Patani, the Prabhudheva directorial features Randeep Hooda as the antagonist and Jackie Shroff.
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