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The super six who set the Web on fire in Covid times

Anshu Khanna

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Lockdown has made each one of us turn into a house mouse, peering out of our little world only to lock our minds with screens, big or small. All day we are either caught up pounding away on our laptop. Or scrolling frenetically across Instagram, or getting hooked on to the many live streaming platforms that distract our tense heart from the gory news that is gnawing at us.

The Daily Guardian catches up with the super six young minds who are setting the Internet ablaze with their carefully-curated content. Mind you this selection is free of the pout brigade, the so-called influencers who, like the mercenary soldier, jump from one brand to another.

Radhikaraje Gaekwad: History teller

Ever graceful, stunning, a true Maharani and yet so humble at heart. These were attributes the world gave to Radhika Raje all the time. But in these lockdown times she has shown the world how Instagram can also be used effectively to create content and validate history. Creating great, copy-led content, she allowed the history seekers a view into the world of the Maratha kings of Baroda who were instrumental in making the city such a hub for art.

And her collaboration with Siddharth V. Shah (Curator Asian Arts at the Peabody Essex Museum) to celebrate the Baroda Week was a treat to the art seekers. She addressed the Lucknow Chapter of FICCI FLO, spoke on many pulsating Insta lives, and treated us with rare and rich imagery of the Baroda royals. She admits, “It’s been busier for me during this lockdown working with my page on Instagram,” which is, “A very powerful weapon that must be used with caution.”

For her, it was, “A way to reclaim the narrative of my family and present the legacy to the heritage seeker. It is a quest to put history into perspective and unlike other mediums the Internet pages allow you to tell your story in the most purist way.”

Maria Goretti: A real-life chef

She describes herself as, “ZZ’s keeper, Advanced PADI diver, poem maker and mountain climber”. Besides being a Le Cordon Bleu Chef, a gourmand cook book writer and a TV Host. While the Internet burst open with the world’s most celebrated chefs talking directly to you, it was Maria Goretti’s page that stole your heart with her simple recipe, catchy graphics, motherly one-liners and wifely tantrums. She laughs when she admits, “It kept me busy and got me to accept and make my peace with what the world is calling the new normal!”

The posts kept her occupied allowing her “to venture out to find ingredients, experiment, also learn something new”. And did she write? “Not a word. I am doing a book of poems, but I have not edited a word.” Though she feels that once this paused, in-between life ends, “The book will take a life of its own.”

Raghav Meattle: A new drishti cone

His chocolate-boy looks have the girls swooning. His songs capture the angst of the “City Life”, and his way with words make him as good an anchor as he is with songs and writings. Raghav Meatlle, a singer-songwriter, had the young world in splits right through the lockdown with his ‘Coneversations’ on Insta as Cone Daddy. A cult that instantly broke the Internet and created a ‘Cone-munity’ filled with young, aspiring artists. He recalls, “It was purely by chance that I hit upon this filter of an ice cream cone and I decided to sit inside it and start chatting with fellow artists.” Soon it became like a ‘Virtual open mic’ where people came and sang, others pinned comments and “I got to meet so many young artists.”

 Currently he is all set to work on two new Hindi tracts with the group Shor from Hyderabad and the group Khwab. That is when he is not inside that cone having his followers crack up with a smile.

Pranay-Shounak: The new fashion guru

Pranay Jaitly and Shaunak Amonkar, though fashion graduates from Milan, understand heritage design and India Inc better than any other stylists in Bollywood. And it reflects in the way they style their clients: Vidya Balan, Kalki Koechlin, Radhika Apte, Mrinal Thakur, Richa Chadha and Chitrangadha in the most rooted, classic and purist way. With zero histrionics and controlled drama.

Right through the lockdown, their page WhoWoreWhatWhen was possibly the only page that kept its followers engaged as they set off on a self-discovery path offering a window to their own little world. As Pranay puts it, “Otherwise we never spoke about ourselves on the page, so, during this lockdown we decided why not let our followers know who we are… These three months have given us a chance to go inwards and possibly even discover who we are.”

Kamakshi: Songs for the soul

They say that a singer needs his or her audience. Myth will have you believe that music cannot survive if not played to an arena. Yet the young and beautiful singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna is finding new and interesting ways to not just keep herself and her followers busy but also do things that her busy life would not have allowed earlier. “This pause has made each one of us stop in our tracks and try something we always dreamt of but never had the time to do.”

Leaving behind a dream home in Mumbai that she had just taken up with her roommates, she hit the ground running with Insta lives, online concerts and her own little sojourns with her voice in her maverick backyard or in her Bohemian room filled with art of yore and energy of present. That is when she was not busy creating the visual content for her next single Qareeb, using mediums that are lockdown-friendly. “These are trying times that call for thinking beyond the ‘tried’ bastions.”

And she is doing that through a series of collaborations: With artists like Tejas Menon for whom she sang for the fun musical that punned on the conference call. With Rashmeet Kaur, the soulful Sufi singer, together they sang a cover of Lal Ishq and both singers got a major thumbs up. With pal and singer Abhilasha Sinha, with whom she connected right from Boston where Abhilasha is locked up right now. As they say when in lockdown, unlock your inner reserves.

Sumiran Kashyap: Sari Sartorialist

She makes every sari seem like poetry in reality. Her style personifies the aura of that proverbial apsara lost in her ethereal world. She goes from image to image supporting the creative sojourn of many hand-made legacydriven brands of the country… Sabyasachi Mukherjee in her own confession being her constant. “No denying that his design has my heart. Ever since I learnt to drape the sari and also got a moment to interact with the maestro and his creation up close I have never stopped loving his heritage story.”

A young lifestyle brand writer, Sumiran sees herself getting drawn to artisanal craft and the inherent connect beauty has with wellness. Her page Thinking Totty, through these three months, had filled the Insta world with beauty regimens of the past urging us to look inwards and pursue a life filled with nature. “I think I am an old soul who is reliving a past life dream.” Besides treating us with her visual grace she also is using the lock down to talk of forgotten practices of tarot and spiritual healing.

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Bell Bottom: Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor say hello to London

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Akshay Kumar and Vaani Kapoor have finished their Glasgow schedule for the upcoming spy-thriller film, ‘Bell Bottom’. They are now set to shoot in London. Akshay posted an Instagram picture featuring his wife Twinkle Khanna and son Aarav, who are currently with him in the UK, along with the cast and crew of the film. “So many happy faces in one frame…that’s the result of a good schedule. Goodbye Glasgow, hello London #BellBottom @_vaanikapoor_ @ranjitmtewari @jackkybhagnani @deepshikhadeshmukh @pooja_ent @emmayentertainment @onlyemmay@madhubhojwani @nikkhiladvani@ aseemarora,” he wrote in the caption. The film also stars Lara Dutta and Huma Qureshi and is slated for an April 2021 release. 

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Varun Sharma feels happy on being called ‘Choocha’ or ‘Sexa’

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 Actor-comedian Varun Sharma says when fans call him by the names of his popular on-screen characters, it is the biggest compliment he can get. “It makes me really happy when people refer to me as Choocha or Sexa (his characters in ‘Fukrey’ and ‘Chhichhore’ respectively) instead of my name. It’s a blessing for any actor to be recognised by the names of the characters they portray,” said the actor. 

 Varun, who has made his mark as one of the funniest talents in Bollywood lately, has now bagged an interactive stand-up comedy show as a host. Titled ‘Sabse Funny Kaun?’, the new show has 10-minute episodes and features 10 comedians. “I am truly thankful to the audience for showering so much love, and I’m happy to be back to entertain them. As an actor whose forte is comedy, people are always looking for you to crack them up and I am eager to give people that opportunity as the host of ‘Sabse Funny Kaun?’,” said Varun. Every episode sees two participants dishing out jokes across topical and alternative comedy. The show is live on the Flipkart app. 

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SRK, Vidya and Sushant inspire me: Radhika Madan

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Actress Radhika Madan says she drew inspiration to join films from superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Radhika was a well-known face in the television industry before she won plaudits with her film roles. She was seen in the television show ‘Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi’ and also participate din the reality dance contest, ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 8’. In 2018, she made her Bollywood debut with Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Pataakha’, and there has been no looking back.

  “I was quite well known in TV, but I had to start from scratch while starting my journey in Bollywood. It was not that I got roles immediately. I had to give several auditions. I had to start from the very beginning. I even heard a lot of negative comments about myself. But those remarks did not stop me from moving ahead. I believed in my dreams,” Radhika told IANS. “I used to say to myself, If Shah Rukh (Khan) sir or Vidya (Balan) ma’m or Sushant (Singh Rajput) could do it, I can too. Their journeys inspired me a lot. They all came from television background. I feel the medium does not matter. What truly matters is hard work,” shared Radhika. 

 She recalled working on her debut film ‘Pataakha’, saying: “It was not a typical Bollywood debut. The film let go off my inhibitions. From getting my hair bleached and teeth stained to gaining 12 kilos, the movie taught me the real meaning of my craft and made me realise how important it is to put the character above yourself. It was a dream debut. Working with Vishal sir was always on my wish list. (I) Couldn’t have asked for more,” added Radhika about her debut film, which also featured Sanya Malhotra and Vijay Raaz.

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Amanda Seyfried blessed with second child

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Actress Amanda Seyfried is the latest celebrity to deliver a child amidst the pandemic. She has given birth to her second child, a baby boy. Seyfried and her husband Thomas Sadoski announced the news through a statement. They also shared the first photo of their son on Instagram. “Since the birth of our daughter 3 years ago our commitment to the innocent children that are so brutally affected by conflict and war has been a driving force in our lives,” said the couple. 

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Arbaaz Khan files defamation case

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 Actor-producer Arbaaz Khan has filed a defamation case against several social media users who alleged his involvement in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his manager Disha Salian. Arbaaz filed the case in a civil court in the city, and the court has directed defendants Vibhor Anand and Sakshi Bhandari, and unknown defendants — namely John Doe/Ashok Kumar — to withdraw, recall or take down defamatory content published directly or indirectly by any of them. The defamatory posts stated that the Arbaaz was arrested and taken into unofficial custody by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as part of the investigation. 

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Nambiar’s ‘Taish’ to release as film and web series

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The Bejoy Nambiar-directed multistarrer revenge drama, ‘Taish’, will adopt a unique release strategy. Nambiar will launch his effort in the form of a film as well as a six-episode web series on 29 October. He is not ready to reveal the details of his unusual plan yet, though the lead actor Pulkit Samrat describes the film as a “madness that will grip the audience”. ‘Taish’ also features Kriti Kharbanda, Jim Sarbh, Harshvardhan Rane and Sanjeeda Sheikh.

 “All I can say about ‘Taish’ is the madness that will grip the audience. The characters have lots of passion and that is extremely evident throughout the story. It will take us all on a journey,” said Pulkit. 

 According to Kriti, it’s one of the most passionate projects she has ever worked on. “Millennials will absolutely relate to the story. Everyone has been to a wedding that has its share of drama and madness. Relationships will be tested and trust will be broken,” she pointed out.  

“‘Taish’ is a test of human emotions and our perseverance to fight the odds stacked against us. It is a revenge drama that surrounds two families and an incident that ignites a storm. With love and revenge as motif, the story will take you through an emotional wild ride. This has been a passion project from the word go and I really hope the audience acknowledges our labour of hard work,” said Nambiar of the Zee5 release.

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