NEW DELHI: History beckons him like the proverbial magnet, epics capture his creative heart and the ephemeral world of celluloid leaves him totally spellbound. J.J. Valaya, couturier, costumer, design addict and history lover, who also happens to be ‘hooked on to the reel world and its enigmatic imagery’, had a dream fulfilled when Oscar-winning costumer Ruth E Carter reached out to collaborate with him for her Amazon Original movie, Coming 2 America.
Noted designer J.J. Valaya.Left to right: Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), Semmi (Arsenio Hall) and Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) in ‘Coming 2 America’.Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) in the film.Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) in ‘Coming 2 America’.
A promising sequel to the blockbuster that had the world in raptures way back in 1988, when JJ was probably a teenager, the movie keeps the epic appeal and approaches the sets, design and costume with a certain grandiosity. Adding magic to it is our very own JJ, born to an army general, brought up in various cantonment towns of India and possibly raised in a culture where cinema and clubs were the only way to be in these distant towns and cities. No wonder then, his design journey is much influenced by epics that were shown as a staple to children raised with the army. Add to that JJ’s own passion for history, his love for opulence and his connection with royal and nomadic influences, and he possibly becomes the finest choice Ruth made from the circles of Indian couturiers. Full marks for that.
All set for its global premiere on Amazon Prime Video on March 5, 2021, Coming 2 America, like the original movie, will once again put the Afro-American world on the map of glitz and glamour. This sequel will also remain rooted in fashion. Ruth, known for her hand in cinema of grandiose proportions, has found a match to her sense of history in design. A costume designer with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star to her credentials, Ruth reached out to Valaya after seeing his body of work, instinctively finding a fit. Valaya calls it a stroke of the universe conspiring to make it possible to work on a film that he had been hooked on to in the 1980s.
A self-certified royal nomad at heart, Valaya’s intoxicating quest to bring to the forefront a diverse range of cultures globally through his work further sealed the deal and got him on board for this project.
Designing amidst a raging pandemic turned into quite a challenge but Valaya and Ruth mastered a virtual exchange of ideas. Valaya put together a set of 18 outfits for celebrated actors such as Eddie Murphy, Shari Headley and Arsenio Hall, to name a few. The initial designs, created by Carter, were subsequently interpreted by Valaya using his signature trademark prints and embroideries, coming out like a perfect symphony.
With a significant variation from his previous works, which involved seeking inspiration from a profuse number of empires and legacies around the world, Valaya believes that designing for a film is distinct in comparison to a collection as “the styles and silhouettes for a movie revolve around a storyline and the director’s vision, followed then by the DNA of the character in the film…all of which has to eventually translate into a visual drama”.
Valaya says, “The costumes, ranging from gowns and capes to various items of menswear, have been created with strong undertones of African society and are replete with bold colors, textures, patterns and interesting silhouette and the much-celebrated intricate Valaya embroideries…all of which have been used to bring alive this period drama.”
Valaya feels that understanding the plot, setting and the characters is a prerequisite to design, a process which was made exceedingly easy and transparent due to the constant support and inputs he received from Ms Carter. Noting a parallel with the theatrical production that a typical Indian wedding is, Valaya is a strong believer that the African society is quite similar to ours in terms of splendour and therefore, it was simpler to understand the scale that this project required.
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‘THE STARLING’ IS A DEEPLY PHILOSOPHICAL FILM ABOUT OVERCOMING GRIEF
Toronto International Film Festival 2021 offered a very interesting lineup of films. On one hand we had crowd pullers like Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ and Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho,’ on the other we had gritty dramas like Antoine Fuqua’s ‘The Guilty’ and Michael McGowan’s ‘All My Puny Seasons’. The festival also screened riveting documentaries like Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty’s ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ and Gian Cassini’s ‘Comala’. But, perhaps, the most unique film to screen at the 2021 TIFF was Theodore Melfi’s dramedy ‘The Starling,’ based on a screenplay by Matt Harris. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Kevin Kline, Chris O’Dowd, and Timothy Olyphant.
After Lilly (McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O’Dowd) lose their infant daughter, grief gets the better of Jack and he enrolls in a psychiatric clinic. But Lilly decides to deal with her guilt while going about her day to day affairs. She keeps her job at the grocery store, continues to look after the family’s expansive rural property, and dutifully visits her husband at the clinic every week. Even as she is trying to come to terms with the reality of her existence a combative bird takes nest beside her quiet home and repeatedly taunts and attacks the grief-stricken Lilly.
During one of the sessions at the psychiatric clinic where Jack is staying, a counselor suggests that Lilly should see a local therapist, Larry (Kevin Kline), after she suspects that Lilly isn’t tending to her own grieving process. But the counselor fails to mention that Larry gave up psychology long ago to become a veterinarian. Things come full circle when Lilly meets Larry as the latter’s veterinarian skills prove quite handy to the former in dealing with the territorial bird wreaking havoc in her garden.
The idea for the unique story stemmed from Matt’s personal experience of working in a mental health hospital to earn a living while attending graduate school for his Master’s. It evolved into a story of an inexplicable tragedy that befalls a couple as they are forced to reconcile their grief and seek a way forward if they are to share a future together. Matt wrote the script with the prize money he won from the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. It made the rounds until director Ted Melfi fell in love with it. After years of near-misses, the film finally got made with its post-production getting completed during the pandemic.
Now, The Starling doesn’t offer a regular story. The ideas and themes that it deals with make it a very complex film. And perhaps that’s why it’s been in the waiting for so long. And if it wouldn’t have been for Ted Melfi it would have remained a screenplay for at least some more years to come. Melfi is known for films such as ‘Winding Roads,’ ‘St. Vincent,’ and ‘Hidden Figures,’ which was nominated for three academy awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker has a rare gift to deal with subjects that puts strong women characters in the mix of things. While ‘Winding Roads’ is about three women navigating their respective love lives, ‘Hidden Figures’ tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.
In ‘The Starling,’ Melfi has his job cut out to make the rather peculiar character of Lilly look believable. And he does succeed in the task. Of course, the casting choice of his ‘St. Vincent’ star Melissa McCarthy in the role of Lilly proves to be an inspired one. McCarthy is one of the few actors around who are capable of making the audiences laugh and cry at the drop of a hat. I remember recently watching her in the Hulu show ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ wherein during one of the funny scenes she chokes on a grape. McCarthy is so good in the scene that I just couldn’t hold back my laughter in spite of the precarious nature of her situation. From that point onwards in the show whenever she appears on the screen she is able to punctuate the tension. But few minutes into ‘The Starling,’ I totally forgot about the character in ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and all I really cared about was Lilly. That’s how good an actor McCarthy really is.
‘The Starling’ is a deeply philosophical film that is not easy to watch if you are looking for your regular escapist entertainment. It’s a movie that demands patience. But, patience does have its rewards. McCarthy’s layered performance alone makes it worth a watch. The chemistry between McCarthy and Kline is what holds the movie together. Melfi proves that what’s good on paper can also be successfully translated on the screen as long as a director is willing to back it up and he/she has access to good actors.
AJAY’S ‘DEFINING MOMENT’ FROM HIS MALDIVES TRIP
MUMBAI: Actor Ajay Devgn, on Friday, treated his fans with an adorable picture of him sharing smiles with his little son Yug. In the image, the father-son duo can be seen enjoying the sea waves on the boat in the Maldives. The two can also be seen wearing life jackets as the ‘Singham’ actor holds his son close. Ajay has beautifully described the click.
Sharing the photograph on Instagram, he wrote, “Yug wearing his safety jacket, that’s me, when we hit the waters at Maldives…A few of the many defining moments that we had during our short September break.”
Ajay recently went to the ocean paradise for the shoot of “Into The Wild With Bear Grylls” show.
STARS DEMAND ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
WASHINGTON: From Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga to Camila Cabello, over 60 musicians, actors and artists have urged entertainment industry executives to ask US Congress to pass climate change legislation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, several artists teamed up with the NRDC Action Fund to pen a letter to Warner Music Group CEO Lincoln Benet, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and others to lend their support to US President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bills. “Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in a clean, just, and equitable future for all by passing the robust climate action that President Biden called for in his Build Back Better agenda. As the top leaders of the entertainment industry you are needed to lead our community’s call for action and embrace this vision for a better world,” the letter read.
Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is contained in two bills, one a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal and the other a $3.5 trillion package that includes creating industrial policy to tackle climate change, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
“The entertainment community has a long, proud tradition of driving societal change. Our industry is already leading the charge toward more sustainable practices within our own businesses and productions. Now is the time to use your influence to shape our future,” the statement added.
KRITI SHARES GLIMPSE OF HER CHARACTER ‘MYRA’
MUMBAI: Bollywood star Kriti Sanon piqued the interest of her fans by sharing a glimpse of her character Myra from her upcoming action-comedy film ‘Bachchan Pandey’. Kriti on her Instagram Story, posted a picture while dubbing for the film. In the photo, Kriti gave a glimpse of her character Myra from a scene of the film, with her hair casually tied up, as she smiled beautifully. Along with this, Kriti wrote, “Bachchan Pandey!! this one’s special… Our third together #SajidSir @wardakhannadiadwala @nadiadwalagrandson @farhadsamji.”
The upcoming film, which stars Akshay Kumar in the lead, is being helmed by Farhad Samji and bankrolled by Sajid Nadiadwala. Apart from Akshay and Kriti, the film also features actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Arshad Warsi in pivotal roles. Akshay’s character in the film is a gangster who aspires to be an actor, while Kriti essays the role of a journalist, who harbours dreams of becoming a film director. The film is slated for theatrical release on January 26, 2022.
‘TUM AAOGEY’ WILL BE MY MOST SPECIAL CREATION: AMAAL
Music composer Amaal Malik spoke to The Daily Guardian about his new song ‘Tum Aaogey’ from Bell Bottom and much more.
Q. ‘Tum Aaogey’ has crossed millions of views, how overwhelmed are you with this?
A. It is truly an emotional moment for me as well as my audience. Although it is the 90th song of my career, it feels like my first release. Bell bottom is a very special film and composing for it was truly an honour. There is a certain honesty and purity in this melody that will remain with the listeners and I’m glad that just within a day of its release people are celebrating it.
Q. What was the process of the song, making of it, and your reaction after the final song was made?
A. Tum Aaogey is going to be one of my most special songs and it’s one of the best works I have done for film music so far. I don’t think a song like this has been a part of a film for a long long time. It’s a beautiful tribute to the armed forces. Armaan has done an amazing job with the vocals, it’s great to be part of a film that manages to stand tall and be released in theaters.
KATRINA’S LIME-YELLOW JUMPER IS WHAT YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE WITH
It’s almost ‘sweater weather’ and Bollywood diva Katrina Kaif who is known for acing her sartorial looks, has just shown us what we might have been missing out on to add to our wardrobe!
Katrina, who is currently shooting in Austria with superstar Salman Khan for the next schedule of their upcoming movie Tiger 3, took to Instagram and shared two snaps of herself enjoying the European ‘sweater weather’. While the pictures are proof that the ‘Bharat’ actor is spending a happy Tuesday in Europe, not to miss is the autumn fashion that she has totally nailed.
In the pictures, the actor could be seen snuggled up in a lime yellow coloured jumper. The diva looked magnificent even without makeup on her face.
The lime colour is the new black currently in the books of fashion. The colour of happiness and optimism is trending and looks super modish and classy at the same time. With or without accessories, this colour will help you look stylish all the time.
Meanwhile, speaking of Katrina’s work front, the actor has recently flown to Austria with the Tiger 3 team to shoot for the international leg of their upcoming movie.
Salman and Katrina will perform some spectacular action sequences in places like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut and finally in Vienna.The team was earlier shooting in Turkey, where Salman and Katrina also met the Turkish tourism minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. They were spotted at lunch together after finishing shoot day for the film.
Tiger 3 is the third film in the successful Ek Tha Tiger franchise, which will also feature actor Emraan Hashmi as an antagonist.
The upcoming film will mark Emraan’s maiden collaboration with YRF, which is producing the flick. Tiger 3 will have Salman reprise his role of R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) agent Avinash Singh Rathore aka Tiger, while Katrina will be seen playing the female lead.
The first film of the popular franchise called Ek Tha Tiger came out in 2012 and was directed by Kabir Khan. The film received an overwhelming response and was a massive success at the box office.
The second movie, Tiger Zinda Hai, had released in 2017 and was directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. Salman and Katrina have featured in both movies.
Apart from Tiger 3, Katrina is awaiting the release of Rohit Shetty’s upcoming film Sooryavanshi starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role. She will also be seen playing the lead in the horror-comedy Phone Bhoot with Ishaan Khatter and Siddhant Chaturvedi.
She recently announced her next big project Jee Le Zara with Priyanka Chopra and Alia Bhatt.
With ANI inputs
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