WASHINGTON: Actor-comedian Vir Das is developing a country music comedy series titled ‘Country Eastern’ for Fox.
As per Variety, Das is attached to co-write and executive produce the project with Sam Laybourne, with Laybourne also attached to serve as showrunner. Das might also star in the upcoming project. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer and Ali Bell of Party Over Here will also executive produce along with Reg Tigerman. CBS Studios and Fox Entertainment will produce.
Titled ‘Country Eastern’, the single-camera show has received a script commitment with a penalty attached. The show is about a young wealthy man from India who restarts his life in America with his family. While attempting to rebuild their lives in Memphis, Tennessee, he decides to pursue his passion and become a country music singer. Only problem: he’s shit. Total shit. He’s going to have to gain some life experience in the States if he wants to have something real to sing about.
This would mark Das’ first US series lead and his second series regular role following his stint on ABC’s spy dramedy ‘Whiskey Cavalier’. Das also created, executive produced and starred in the Netflix Indian dark comedy series ‘Hasmukh’.
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CLASSICAL MUSIC CAN BE YOUR SAFE SPACE
I had an interesting session today with a student of music. This session was one that had to combine therapy with music, since the student in question had approached me with a specific purpose. She wanted to see how learning and engaging in classical music could help her through some life challenges she was facing. The first five or six sessions with her, over the past few weeks, were simply about trying to understand her life and difficulties. Through these sessions, I had taken her through some breathing and singing exercises that involved stabilizing her voice, breath and mind. I had also begun doing some music exercises with her. In today’s session, I began by asking her how she was feeling. This was just a general question I had posed, since I did not expect our sessions to have started influencing her mental state just yet. But what she said took me by pleasant surprise.
She said that she was already feeling very deeply helped because she felt ‘safe’ in the presence of music. She felt like she was in the presence of something pristine and beautiful, and that that itself was immensely healing. She had, in addition, been listening to links to my classical music concerts, and said that the sound of classical music made her feel safe and happy already. I responded by saying that I had not even begun doing the meatier stuff with her, and that this may actually be a placebo. She said with gratitude and conviction that, as a scientist herself, she was sure that what she felt was genuine and real. This was one of the most gratifying moments for me.
I have been advocating, for a while now, the use of classical music to develop mindfulness and awareness, and harness its immensely healing attributes. But I did not expect that I would see such profound effects even before beginning work that I thought was substantial enough to start helping someone. Today’s session made me realize that classical music, when served with compassion and kindness to the learner, has an almost instant healing impact. Music intrinsically has the ability to disarm and make people engage. If we can couple that with an environment that is understanding, forgiving and loving, we can create the perfect setting for emotional healing and catharsis. The learner can become aware, still and totally committed to the present.
Another attribute of classical music which can help us connect emotionally to the learner are Raagas. Due to their versatile mood content and emotive powers, Raagas can give us the ability to connect with the learner’s mood and bring them out of his or her shell. This may have happened in my session with the lady today. As I embarked on teaching her a ‘bandish’ in Sarang, a bright and soothing afternoon Raaga, she felt energized, happy and peaceful, a state far removed from the worries and concerns that had been plaguing her.
I have observed many a time that there is often a dearth of compassion and love in the way music is taught. Musical teaching sometimes lacks the handholding approach that a learner really needs. The reason this is the case is because, so far, classical music has been reserved for the few who are ‘deserving’, musically ‘gifted’ ones. My argument is that if music is meant to soothe and heal the spirit and is indeed a conduit to the divine, why should only some partake of this privilege? People may derive immense pleasure from listening to music. But they derive even more validation and pleasure when they can be taught to produce music, even if it is not perfect. It is beautiful and healing because it bears the student’s unique signature and comes straight from his or her soul. There is a reason we use the phrase ‘singing one’s heart out’.
Today’s session with my student taught me to have conviction in my belief that classical music has to break barriers and reach every soul. Because it is the birthright of every soul on this planet to have access to happiness and healing. It is right of every human being to ask for tools to be happy, and it is the duty of every classical musician to share the healing power of music with those who seek it. Classical music is not a property to be kept or preserved. It is a life force that needs to set free for people to thrive in.
So why should we wait any longer? Let us find our own safe space in music and allow others to find it too. A space to experience timelessness and bliss.
HOW TO SET REALISTIC FITNESS GOALS FOR 2022
Come January, the topmost things on everyone’s mind are their health and fitness goals for the year. However, crash diets and barely-used gym memberships are not the correct way to approach one’s fitness journey, if the idea is to stay on track long term. This was the lesson that Sahil Bansal and Mehakdeep (Mac) Singh learnt the hard way, before joining hands to simplify the fitness journeys of others through their unique fitness app – Fitelo.
In his fat-to-fit journey, Bansal’s biggest learning was that fitness is about building habits and changing one’s lifestyle. Singh was overweight since childhood and tried every possible weight loss solution but his weight would always come back. Finally, he lost 60 kgs when he made the switch to natural foods.
Their own weight loss journeys taught them valuable lessons, and together they launched Fitelo in 2019 to offer assistance to people in achieving their fitness goals. They do this by designing wellness plans customized and personalized as per individual needs on the basis of the person’s age, their body’s needs, their goals, lifestyle, diseases, family history, stress and activity levels, and other factors.
“We have experience of working with corporates and startups, and we understand human psychology as well as technology. We are also passionate about fitness. With more than 10 years of industry experience each, we have built a high-performance team that understands health, psychology, and customer service,” declare the founders.
Fitelo offers a subscription based model. Once a customer purchases a plan, a health coach is assigned to them, and throughout the journey, they are managed by the AI-enabled platform. The plans vary from ₹3000 monthly for weight management cases to 50,000 annual plan for disease management cases. With over 50 expert coaches on board, Fitelo has facilitated a number of amazing transformations.
The founders say, “Exercise has a 20 percent role in weight loss and diet is 80 percent. Therefore we mainly focus on the diet. We encourage you to do a 20 minute walk every day or get involved in household chores or take part in a home workout session to supplement the diet goals.”
Since the pandemic, fitness apps have gained tremendous momentum. According to a World Economic Forum study, India recorded a 156 percent increase in the download of health and fitness apps in the first two quarters of 2021. Hence, Fitelo is poised for success.
“Every fitness journey is different. So are each individual’s goals. As such, the length of the program could vary from 6-12 months. Habit building takes time. We request our users to enrol in our programs for a long-term period to see permanent changes in their bodies and lifestyle,” say the founders.
In the next five years, Fitelo plans to be a one-stop shop for sustainable and natural weight loss and fitness. The team is looking to make Fitelo into a platform where an unhealthy or unfit person can search for awareness on the subject, consult experts, and purchase products or services that can help them achieve their long-term fitness goals.
“Fitelo is the easiest way to get seriously fit. We work on modifying the lifestyle of an individual step by step. So, our clients get fit and are able to stay fit in the easiest possible way. Our methodology is completely natural. Our program doesn’t require having access to any gym, any fitness equipment. In fact, we don’t even recommend any fad diets or the use of any supplements or medicines. We help our clients gain better understanding of their behavioural habits and improve their nutrition and lifestyles on the basis of that,” share the founders.
The bedrock of being fit is to make a lifelong habit of it. One can only build a habit when they take small steps repeatedly over a period of time. Every weight loss product or service on the market, promises people instant results. As a result of this, unfortunately, people lose weight but regain it after a few months – and enter a vicious cycle in the process. For true fitness, one must inculcate healthy habits into their daily life. This is the only sustainable and long-lasting way to lose weight, stay fit and avoid diseases.
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENJOY EXPERIMENTAL NORTH INDIAN CUISINE WITH MADAM CURRY’S OFFERINGS
Founded by Ishaan Kapoor, Delhi-based Madam Curry delivers delicacies that are the product of experimentation, where classic North Indian recipes have been given a new twist.
The third wave has forced us to stay indoors once again. Instead of lamenting the situation however, we should partake of enjoyment wherever possible. For foodies, this means trying out and enjoying new food delivery places. Delhi-based Madam Curry is one such place you shouldn’t miss. Founded by Ishaan Kapoor, this cloud kitchen delivers delicacies that are the product of experimentation – where classic North Indian recipes have been given a new twist.
“We took inspiration from Polish scientist Marie Curie to name our brand – and just like her, we enjoy experimenting and trying new recipes and routes to offer a wholesome experience to our customers. We work on Curie’s philosophy of ‘Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it’. We hope that just a whiff of our dishes will be as recognisable as the dishes made by our mothers, which are always full of affection, deliciousness and love,” says Kapoor with a smile.
Kapoor cemented his position in the food and beverage industry by catering over 700 parties under his brand The Purple Plate which launched in 2017. The rapid growth he witnessed encouraged him to launch Madam Curry in quick succession.
A Post Graduate Diploma holder in Hospitality Management from the reputed Les Roches Institute in Switzerland, Kapoor has previously worked for international hotel chains like the Shangri-La in New Delhi and The Oberoi in Gurugram. He also had a stint in the banquet sales section at the ITC Maurya in New Delhi. Additionally, he holds a diploma in classic French cuisine from the International Institute of Culinary Arts. A national level Table Tennis player in his younger days, Kapoor strongly believes in giving back to society. He has been closely associated with NGOs like Ekal Vidyalaya and Smile Foundation, among others.
Speaking about his latest venture Madam Curry, Kapoor says, “We started a delivery-only concept to create and promote experimental Indian dishes. Our base kitchen is located in the Okhla industrial area, and we currently deliver to south Delhi through Zomato and Swiggy. We also deliver across the NCR region through our website www.madamcurry.in. We have recently launched operations in Gurugram too.”
Based on a ‘from plate to table’ concept, Madam Curry’s product packaging is designed so that packed and freshly delivered food can directly be served on the table, making the entire experience a hassle-free one.
The USP of the brand according to Kapoor, is their promise to serve popular and classic recipes with an experimental twist that will tease the consumer’s palate. They work with ingredients which are kept secret, and experiment to make their dishes unique and authentic.
“Our packaging is also quite distinctive. It is in line with our philosophy of using elements of chemistry. We have taken inspiration from glass, test tubes, periodic tables, tin, and other scientific paraphernalia. We use only biodegradable packaging that does not harm the environment. Our bottled jar packaging used for salads, raitas and our signature desserts and the test tube packaging for chutneys are a big hit with our patrons,” he shares.
Bringing a fresh twist to tried and tested age-old North Indian cuisine is not an easy task, but the team at Madam Curry promises to do it. With training as a chef, Kapoor believes in serving the best possible version of his dishes. Indian cuisine has always been his preferred choice as he enjoys the creative use of spices and ingredients that go into its preparation.
When asked about his most popular dishes, Kapoor divides them into non-vegetarian and vegetarian categories. In the former, he says the most popular ones are Saffron and Black Pepper Chicken Tikka and Chicken Biryani; and for the latter they include Madam Curry Paneer Tikka, Mini Vada Pao Sliders, Dal Bukhara, Vegetable Biryani, and Jalapeno and Cheese Paratha. Their most popular experimental dessert is Kahlua and Chocolate Phirni. Kapoor puts the popularity of these dishes down to the experimental flavours they offer to customers, as well as the presentation of their food and their interesting packaging.
The pandemic was a challenging phase for Kapoor and his team but with food services, especially cloud kitchen deliveries, falling under essential services, Madam Curry as a brand only grew and continued to serve patrons without any glitches.
“Since the time of the launch, our brand has received an overwhelming response from our customers and is one of the highest rated brands on Swiggy with a rating of 4.7. We have seen a growth of 12 percent month to month since we started operations last year. We plan to have four locations by the end of this year across Delhi, before we take the brand to Mumbai and Bengaluru in 2023. We also plan to open ten more delivery outlets by 2025,” says Kapoor outlining the future plans of this promising food delivery brand.
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on email@example.com.
Kapoor cemented his position in the food and beverage industry by catering over 700 parties under his brand The Purple Plate which he launched in 2017. The rapid growth he witnessed encouraged him to launch Madam Curry in quick succession.
BIRTH ANNIVERSARY: 5 MOVIES TO REMEMBER SUSHANT
NEW DELHI: Sushant Singh Rajput, whose birth anniversary was on Friday, was an actor who etched his name in the hearts of both small and large screen audiences with his spectacular performances that will be remembered for many years to come.
Born on 21 January 1986, the late actor might have left this world at an early but his fans continue to remember him because of the strong character he played in his films, despite a short-lived career. On the occasion of Sushant’s birth anniversary, let’s go down memory lane and have a look back at some of the best works of the acclaimed actor.
‘Kai Po Che’ (2013): Sushant made his Bollywood debut with ‘Kai Po Che!’, which also featured Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao in pivotal roles. The movie was based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ and followed the lives of three best friends on their journey through life.
‘M.S Dhoni-The Untold Story’ (2016): The Neeraj Pandey directorial biopic on the popular cricketer was Sushant’s most pivotal role in a seven-year-long movie career and even proved to be the biggest hit of his. Sushant was outstanding in each scene, splendidly portraying the captain’s fragile and sensitive side and even managed to get the accent just right.
‘Kedarnath’ (2018): Featuring debutant Sara Ali Khan along with Sushant, this movie was a romantic drama directed by Abhishek Kapoor. Based on the 2013 Uttarakhand floods that devastated the region, ‘Kedarnath’ also shed light on inter-faith love and marriage between a wealthy Hindu Brahmin woman (Sara) and a Muslim man (Sushant) working in the same vicinity.
‘Chhichhore’ (2019): This was Sushant’s last film which was released in theatres while he was alive. ‘Chhichhore’ had set the flags of success at the box office, was, ironically, an ode to the idea of living life to the fullest and not giving up in the face of challenge.
‘Dil Bechara’ (2020): Sushant’s final film ‘Dil Bechara’, which was released on the OTT platform Disney Plus Hotstar after his death. A touching adaption of Jonh Green’s novel ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, the film certainly made viewers cry and received critical acclaim.
TAHIR RAJ BHASIN AND ANCHAL SINGH SHINE IN ‘YEH KAALI KAALI ANKHEIN’
With his seminal work Satya, Ram Gopal Varma introduced an interesting new variation of film noir which has come to be known as Mumbai noir. Over the next decade or so, Mumbai noir as well as many of films noir’s other indigenous variations prospered in the hands of Anurag Kashyap along with the likes of Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sriram Raghavan, and Navdeep Singh. In recent years ever since the advent of the web in India, we are witnessing more and more content that falls under the wide canvas of noir. The new Netflix series ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein,’ starring Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Anchal Singh, Brijendra Kala, Shashie Verma, Anant Joshi, Surya Sharma, and Saurabh Shukla, is the latest in the series of films/shows trying to capitalize on the well-known tropes of the genre to tell a pulpy story set in the Hindi heartland. ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ is created and directed by Sidharth Sengupta who is a veteran with over two and a half decades of experience in Indian television with shows like ‘Balika Vadhu’ to his credit. As far as the web is concerned, he previously created and directed the shows ‘Undekhi’ and ‘Apharan’.
But, what is film noir? Wikipedia describes film noir as a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, from the early 1940s to the late 1950s, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Typically, the hero here is morally ambiguous. Then there are stock character types like the private eye (a private detective or inquiry agent) and the femme fatale (a seductive and mysterious woman who ensnares her lovers, often leading them into deadly traps). There is a great likelihood that we would also come across gangsters and their henchmen, prying bystanders, cheating husbands, coquettish wives, and duplicitous cops. As mentioned earlier, film noir has given rise to countless offshoots. However, the basic construct of the genre despite the variations that have evolved over the years remains pretty much the same. In this regard, ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ is not much different. The show basically tells the story of a small-town man named Vikrant who is aggressively pursued by a politician’s daughter named Purva who will do anything to marry him. Vikrant, however, is deeply in love with a girl named Shikha, but when he realizes that the obsessive Purva will not leave any stone unturned to possess him, he is forced to take drastic measures to reclaim his life.
One of the greatest hallmarks of noir, when done well, is the unrelenting mood that stylistically oozes out of each and every frame. As far as the Indian cinema is concerned, two filmmakers, over the last decade and a half, have demonstrated a singular command over the genre: Navdeep Singh and Sriram Raghavan. While Singh’s masterful 2007 neo-noir film ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ is loosely based on Roman Polanski’s 1974 Hollywood classic ‘Chinatown,’ it is actually good enough to stand on its own. His other two films ‘NH10’ and ‘Laal Kaptaan’ too offer interesting shades of noir. As for Raghavan, his films ‘Ek Hasina Thi,’ ‘Johnny Gaddaar,’ ‘Badlapur,’ and ‘Andhadhun’ feature amongst the best neo-noir films made in the country. Filmmakers such as Ram Gopal Varma, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Vetrimaran, Vishal Bhardwaj, and Rajat Kapoor too have tasted some success with noir. The thing with the genre is that if the mood doesn’t seep into your pores the way it does in, say, ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ or ‘Johnny Gaddaar,’ it can really fall flat. And that’s the challenge that Sidharth Sengupta and his team had to begin with. So, did they fail or succeed?
Well, the thing with ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ is that it takes a lot of time to get going. But once things start rolling after the first few episodes, the show really comes into its own. One suddenly starts catching the mood out of the corner of one’s eye without it being thrust at one. The second half of the show is really what makes it tick. The segment set in Ladakh is absolutely breathtaking to watch. Arunoday Singh’s nameless contract killer is perhaps the best thing about the show other than Anchal Singh’s proverbial femme fatale Purva, of course, who just can’t take no for an answer. Tahir Raj Bhasin’s laconic but strong-willed Vikrant comes across as a work in progress for most of the series before finally breaking free of the shackles. Full credit to Bhasin for playing such a complex character with utmost conviction to follow up his memorable turn of a troubled filmmaker modeled on Mahesh Bhatt in ‘Ranjish Hi Sahi’. Also, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Brijendra Kala, Shashie Verma, Anant Joshi, and Surya Sharma are brilliant in their respective roles. Ajitabh Sen Gupta succeeds in delivering the chills in a short but memorable role of a henchman. Varun Badola’s dialogues add just the right punch.
Despite its slow setup, ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’ is compelling to watch for the most part. But the manner in which it ends is a little disappointing. It certainly adds value to viewing if the season ends up delivering a closure of sorts. For some reason, Indian content creators are just not willing enough to end a show on a proper note. In the West, they invariably close a season first before going for the cliffhanger but in India, the storytellers skip the closure and directly go for the cliffhanger.
APPLAUSE ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS 2022 WITH A HAT-TRICK OF SHOW RELEASES IN JANUARY
Applause Entertainment has kick-started 2022 on a high note, with two back-to-back show releases. The Sameer Nair-headed content studio of the Aditya Birla Group started the year with a bang with ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ streaming on Zee5 and ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ streaming on Voot Select.
Now, Applause Entertainment is all set to score a hat-trick with Mohit Raina-fronted ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’, streaming on MX Player.
Interestingly, Bhaukaal Season 2 is Applause Entertainment’s 30th release since its inception, it is 10th offering on MX Player and also its seventh show to boast of a second season. The first season of ‘Bhaukaal’, which was released in early 2020, became a huge hit for its hard-hitting storyline based on a real-life super cop, Navniet Sekera. The second season of the show revolves around how this police officer in Muzaffarnagar, UP, busts the Dedha gang and brings law, order and peace to the region.
What makes this feat even more commendable is that Team Applause is constantly exploring different genres with every show. ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ produced in association with Emmay Entertainment, streaming on Zee5, is a story of a royal dysfunctional family featuring an ensemble of fantastic actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Lara Dutta, Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Karma, Anya Singh and Raghubir Yadav. The political satire, ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ produced in association with Firstaction Studios and Danish Sait, streaming on Voot Select, takes ahead the 2018 film with a new story running into 10 episodes. ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’ produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Baweja Studios Production has been eagerly awaited by the audience ever since it was announced post the release of its first outing.
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