Modern lifestyles, workplace stress, inner insecurities, lack of trust, and absence of inter-personal communication in relationships have given way to many health problems and lifestyle diseases. No wonder wellness is a $4.2 trillion global industry which constitutes more than half of the total global health spending. The new Hulu series ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’, which is available in India on Amazon Prime Prime, deals with a very important component of the wellness industry: spiritual care. Based on the 2018 novel of the same name by the Australian author Liane Moriarty, the series is created by David E. Kelley (the famed American creator of classics shows like “The Practice”, “Boston Legal”, and “Ally McBeal) who has also developed it along with the English screenwriter John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game, Edge of Tomorrow, and Ford v Ferrari).
The eight part drama series (three of which have been made available to the Indian critics for review ahead of its official release) isn’t available for binge-viewing with new episodes launching weekly. The series follows nine stressed city-dwellers who head to the picturesque boutique beauty and wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The bunch includes the Marconi family (Napolean, Heather, and Zoe essayed by Michael Shannon, Asher Keddie, and Grace van Patten, respectively) which is struggling to overcome a loss of a dear one; Frances (played by Melissa McCarthy), a novelist going through a rough patch; a young couple, Jessica (essayed by Samara Weaving) and Ben (portrayed by Melvin Gregg), on a brink of a major relationship crisis; Tony (essayed by Bobby Cannavale), a former football player dealing with substance addiction; Carmel (played by Regina Hall), a divorceé with serious anger issues, and a gay man named Lars (portrayed by Luke Evans) who is recently dumped by his boyfriend.
The resort, named Tranquillum House, is run by an eccentric Russian wellness guru named Masha (essayed by Nicole Kidman). Tiffany Boone and Manny Jacinto play the parts of Masha’s loyal staff members, Delilah and Yao, respectively. While the long-form narrative opens up so many possibilities for audio-visual storytellers, adapting a literary story with more than a dozen characters stuck in the same place for the entirety of the runtime can be a huge challenge for anyone series creator. And that’s precisely what ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ suffers from. For, the luxury that a novelist enjoys while weaving complex narratives, with unlimited words at his/her disposal, isn’t available to any series creator. So it all boils down to how well a storyteller can employ cinematic techniques to effectively tell a complex story. We are talking about expositions, flashbacks, intercutting, montage, and whatnot.
Here, I am reminded of the baptism sequence in ‘The Godfather’. By the time the film’s principal photography was completed, Francis Ford Coppola had shot over 500,000 feet of footage (roughly equivalent to ninety hours of material). It was made worse by the studio interventions as he wasn’t an established director at the time. He was constantly under pressure to reduce the runtime. Now, Coppola would have been lost without his editors, William Reynolds and Peter Zinner. The editing on the film has often been described as an “epic work in reduction” which deservedly bagged an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing at the 1973 Academy Awards. Reynolds and Zinner’s editing work reaches its zenith during the film’s bravura climax constituting the famous baptism sequence that employs ingenious cross-cutting techniques to significantly reduce the film’s runtime. And it does so while enriching the film’s tonality, symbolism, and pathos though stark juxtapositions and clever use of the church’s organ music along with the priest’s sermon in Latin overlapping the entire sequence.
Now, while watching ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ one does get a sense of the frustration that the editor, Ben Lester, would have felt while trying to put everything together. We are talking about a dozen characters with many subplots, backstories, and the possibilities that open up with the idea of a wellness resort run by an eccentric guru with a dark past. And while Lester does try his best to make everything look coherent he clearly falls short of achieving it. The real culprits are of course Kelley and his team of writers who fail to live up to the challenge of adapting Moriarty’s novel.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ as a lost opportunity. But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. In the case of ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’, it’s the acting performances on offer that come to the show’s rescue. While Nicole Kidman is a sight to behold in the role of the mysterious wellness guru, it is Melissa McCarthy who steals the show as Francis. The scenes that McCarthy shares with Bobby Cannavale are easily the best thing about the show. Also, Michael Shannon is a treat to watch as Napoleon Marconi. His role here is so contrasting to his part in Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ wherein he played a hardened Texas cop for which he got nominated for an Academy Award. Of all the actors, Luke Evans seems to have the weakest part. Now, I would love to see the suave and charming Welsh actor as the next 007 (it’s all in a speculation space right now). But, alas, here he looks a little off-color! A performer of his pedigree ought to be a little more careful in choosing his parts.
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‘THE CROWN’ TAKES THE THRONE AT EMMYS 2021
LOS ANGELES: Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ won big at the Emmys 2021. This show which follows Queen Elizabeth’s life throughout the decades of her reign was declared winner of the Outstanding Drama Series award at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards. It also bagged awards for best actors (drama) and best actors in supporting roles. The show also took home the best writing and directing award.
On such a remarkable win, the team of Netflix took to the streaming giant’s official Twitter handle to congratulate the members of the show. “Congratulations to the cast and crew of The Crown for their 11 Emmy wins — including Best Drama Series, Best Actress for Olivia Colman, and Best Actor for Josh O’Connor https,” the tweet read. Apart from ‘The Crown’, ‘Ted Lasso’ also registered a golden win at Emmys 2021. It racked up four wins, including for best comedy and star Jason Sudeikis. Emmys moved to an indoor-outdoor venue this year due to the pandemic. It was held on Sunday at the Event Deck at LA Live.
SHAH RUKH BIDS ADIEU TO LORD GANESH
NEW DELHI: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, on Sunday night, bid adieu to Lord Ganesh, with a pray to seeing him again next year. Khan took to his Instagram handle and shared a picture of Lord Ganesha’s idol at home. Sharing the picture, the Padma Shri winning actor wrote, “May Lord Ganesha’s blessings remain with all of us until we see him again next year… Ganpati Bappa Morya!!!”
The picture accumulated love from more than one lakh fans within a few minutes of being shared. For the unversed, in 2018, SRK was trolled for making his youngest son AbRam Khan pray to Lord Ganesha during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. At that time, the superstar posted a picture on his Instagram handle which saw AbRam praying to Lord Ganesha at home. Sharing the picture at that time, SRK wrote, “Our Ganpati ‘Pappa’ is home, as the lil one calls him”.
Currently, SRK, who was last seen in Aanand L Rai’s ‘Zero’, has been shooting for ‘Pathan’ which co-stars Deepika Padukone and apparently, John Abraham too.
SONU BREAKS SILENCE ON IT RAID CONTROVERSY
MUMBAI: After tax raids took place at his offices in Mumbai a few days ago, actor Sonu Sood has now finally reacted to the ongoing controversy.
Sonu has been providing assistance to those in need amid the ongoing pandemic through his charitable trust. On Monday, he posted a statement on his social media handles. “You don’t always have to tell your side of the story. Time will. I have pledged myself to the service of the people of India with all my strength and heart. Every rupee in my foundation is awaiting its turn to save a precious life and reach the needy,” the post read.
He also shared that on many occasions, he has “encouraged brands to donate my endorsement fees for humanitarian causes too, which keeps us going.”
“I have been busy attending to a few guests hence was unable to be at your service, for the last 4 days. Here I am back again in all humility. At your humble service, for life,” the statement concluded.
According to Income Tax Department, Sonu and his associates were involved in Rs 20 crore tax evasion and violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while raising funds from abroad.
TAAPSEE’S ‘RASHMI ROCKET’ TO RELEASE THIS DUSSEHRA
MUMBAI: The makers of the much-awaited Taapsee Pannu-starrer ‘Rashmi Rocket’ have finally announced that the film will be released on October 15 on the OTT platform ZEE5.
On Monday, Taapsee shared the poster of the film along with the release date. The poster gives viewers a quick glimpse of the adrenaline-packed narrative, while Taapsee looks full of grit and determination. Along with it, she penned the caption, “Ye chunautiyon bhari race shuru ho chuki hai aur ab ravan dahan pe hi aake rukegi. Bahot kuch nasht karna hai Rashmi ko iss saal.” “Get ready to run with Rashmi in this race on and off the track. She will need you in this one. #RashmiRocket ready to take off on 15th October 2021 only on @zee5,” Taapsee added.
Following the story of a young girl, who hails from a small village but is blessed with an incredibly large gift, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is directed by Akarsh Khurana. What seems like an athletic contest turns into her personal battle for respect, honour, and even her very identity.
SALMAN, KATRINA HEAD TO AUSTRIA TO SHOOT FOR ‘TIGER 3’
MUMBAI: After Turkey and Russia, Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif have headed to Austria on Monday to shoot for the international leg of their upcoming movie ‘Tiger 3’.
Salman and Katrina will perform some spectacular action sequences in places like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut and finally in Vienna. Katrina also shared a video and a picture on her Instagram Story in which she can be seen travelling in Altaussee in Austria, with members of her crew. “Travelling in style with these cuties,” she wrote.
A source from Austria revealed, “’Tiger 3’ will present Austria like never before and Yash Raj Films’ is ensuring that they present the country in the most spectacular way possible. Salman and Katrina will shoot in some never-seen-before locales in the country. They are currently shooting in the areas like Upper Austria, Salzkammergut, Dachstein Salzkammergut where they are filming some intense action sequences for the film.”
Sharing about director Maneesh Sharma’s “grand vision”, the source added, “Maneesh Sharma has a grand vision for ‘Tiger 3’ and Austria presents a perfect backdrop to Tiger and Zoya’s journey and mission in the film. The country is vital to the plot and the screenplay of the film and Maneesh is going all out to shoot some of the most spectacular sequences of the film in Austria.”
FANS IN AWE OF TAAPSEE’S PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATION
MUMBAI: Actress Taapsee Pannu strives to give her best in everything she does and proof of the fact is her recent Instagram post.
On Sunday, Taapsee on her Instagram shared a picture in which she is seen standing in a field with her well-toned back muscles visible in the photograph. “Bhaut sar pe chada rakha hai ise, kisi ki nhi sunti par khud ki sunti hai ….bahut badi baat hai.#TheCalmBeforeTheStorm,” she captioned the post.
The throwback picture appears to be taken during her training session for the upcoming film ‘Rashmi Rocket’, which revolves around the life of an athlete from Gujarat. Netizens have heaped praises on Taapsee for her “amazing” physical transformation for the role. “Mind-blowing transformation,” a fan commented. “Meri sun, body banwa de yaar,” actor and Taapsee’s close friend Abhilash Thapliyal quipped.
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is expected to release on OTT soon.
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