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Why ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ is a lost opportunity

Murtaza Ali Khan

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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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Actor Shefali Shah tests positive for COVID-19 on 17 August

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Shefali Shah

Bollywood actor Shefali Shah has been tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Recently Shah was seen in the movie ‘Darlings’ along with Gangubai actor Alia Bhatt.

Taking to Instagram Shefali said, “I have tested positive for COVID-19. Have immediately isolated myself and will be under home quarantine. I am following all safety products under home quarantine. I am following all safety protocols under the advice of my doctors. Requesting everyone who came in contact with me to get tested immediately too.”

Meanwhile, several fans and well-wishers flooded the social media post’s comment section and wished her a speedy recovery. Actors like Achint Kaur, Saba Pataudi, and Gurpreet Kaur Chadha also wished speedy recovery messages.

Moreover, Shefali will be next seen in ‘Delhi Crime Season 2’ which will release on Netflix on 28 August. However, ‘Doctor G’ will release on 3 December.

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‘Shameful that atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits continue today’, says Anupam Kher

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Anupam Kher

Veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher on Tuesday condemned the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit by a terrorist in the Kashmir Valley.

“Shameful that atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits continue today. They’re killing even their own people. They are killing everyone who stands with India. This has been happening for the past 30 years. The more you condemn it, the less it’s. We’ll have to change the mindset,” Kher said.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Kashmiri Pandit was shot dead at an apple orchard in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists. In the Chotipara area, the incident took place.

Meanwhile, the deceased have been identified as Sunil Kumar Bhar and his brother Pintu who sustained injuries.

The areas have been cordoned and the injured person has been shifted to the hospital.

Moreover in June 2022, a bank manager named Vijay Kumar has shot dead and on 31 May a female Hindu teacher, Rajni Bala was shot dead by terrorists in the Kulgam district.

However, Anupam Kher a Kashmiri Pandit starred in this year’s hit movie ‘The Kashmir Files’. The movie showed the life of Kashmiri Pandits during the 1990 Kashmir insurgency.

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Raju Srivastava on ventilator, manager informs about slow recovery

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Raju Srivastava

Comedian Raju Srivastava was hospitalised on August 10 after having a heart attack. Later, Raju had an angioplasty for the same, and he is currently on a ventilator. Raju’s management said in a new media exchange that the actor is gradually getting better.

Raju’s manager, Nayan Soni, stated, “Raju’s condition is slowly getting better. He is responding to the treatment. There is an improvement in his health and he can now move his body parts a bit. He continues to remain in the ICU and on a ventilator. Doctors have informed us that it will take about a week for him to regain consciousness.”

In a message posted on Raju Srivastava’s official Instagram profile last week, his family stated that his status was “stable” and urged people to “ignore any rumour or fake news being propagated.

The statement on social media read, “Dear all, Raju Srivastava Ji’s condition is stable. We are praying for his speedy recovery. The doctors are treating him and are doing their best. Thanks to all the well-wishers for their continued love and support. Please ignore any rumours or fake news being circulated. Please pray for him.”

According to reports, actor Amitabh Bachchan sent Raju an audio message wishing him a swift recovery ” It’s enough Raju. Rise up Raju, and keep teaching us all to laugh.”

The movies Maine Pyar Kiya, Baazigar, Bombay to Goa, and Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya are some of movies featuring Raju. He also made an appearance in Bigg Boss’ third season. He gained notoriety for his superb comic timing after his appearance as a stand-up comedian on the programme The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He is the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council’s chairman.

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Prabhas and Prashanth Neel’s movie ‘Salaar’ is to release on 28 September 2023

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Salaar

‘Bahubali’ actor Prabhas is in the headlines these days for his upcoming project ‘Salaar’. On the occasion of 15 August, the makers of the film released a new poster of the film.

Taking to Twitter Prashanth Neel said, “Rebel’ling worldwide on Sep 28, 2023. #Salaar #TheEraOfSalaarBegins #Prabhas @VKiragandur @hombalefilms @shrutihaasan @PrithviOfficial @IamJagguBhai @sriyareddy @bhuvangowda84 @RaviBasrur @shivakumarart @anbariv @SalaarTheSaga.”

Sharing the new poster of ‘Salaar’ on social media, Prabhas wrote in the caption, “#TheEraOfSalaarBegins. See you at the cinemas from 28.09.2023. #Salaar.”

Meanwhile, the movie is scheduled to release on 28 September 2023 and is directed by Prashanth Neel, who made blockbuster movies like KGF.

Moreover, the movie is produced by Vijay Kiragandur. ‘Salaar’ is a high-voltage action movie, full of adventure. It has been shot in many countries like India as well as the Middle East and Africa. Prabhas will be seen in the most creepy avatar ever.

The first schedule of the project has already been completed and Prabhas will soon concentrate on completing the last schedule of the film.

However, besides Prabhas the movie also stars Shruti Haasan, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Jagapathi Babu, Ishwari Rao, and Sriya Reddy. The movie will be released in five languages ​​across India.

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Navigating Depression: 4 Activities to Make you Want to Get out of Bed

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Navigating the symptoms of depression is a formidable challenge that takes more than just medication and therapy. It demands every ounce of willpower, inner strength, and courage one possesses to get out of bed and greet the sunshine when all you want to do is bury yourself under the sheets.To fight this complicated and multifaceted battle, it is important to surround yourself with a powerful support system governed by your family and friends. Research reveals that minor modifications to one’s daily diet, lifestyle, and habits can work wonders at fighting off despair and fatigue.Depression drains our energies and deprives us of our will to lead a happy, healthy life. And that’s exactly how you can beat it: reclaiming your life, energies, happiness, and resolve to be healthy and happy.Read on to explore meaningful activities and habits that will make you want to get out of bed and have a fulfilling day.

1.    Sweat off the Sadness

It’s hard to channel your inner workout warrior when your biggest life struggle is getting out of bed and taking a shower. The suggestion that you should exercise may seem like a horrible joke given your current state of mind, but sweating off the sadness truly helps.Clinical studies suggest that going for a walk or engaging in any form of physical activity is as effective as antidepressants and other medications designed to treat depression symptoms. In fact, regular exercise elevates energy levels and prevents depressive episodes from reoccurring.Depression encourages us to give in to the exhaustion and stay curled up under layers of sheets. We suggest claiming small victories, like a stroll to your favorite coffee joint or a walk around the park, to rebuild your stamina and improve your mood. Consider signing up for fun dance classes, yoga sessions, or another workout that you find genuinely enjoyable.

2.    Fight Back for Things you Love

The symptoms of depression push us away from every activity and hobby that adds meaning or pleasure to our lives. Artists struggle to paint again, adventurers lose interest in nature trails, and musicians can’t seem to hold their beloved instruments again.Fighting back for the things and activities you love is imperative to reclaim your personality. Indulging in meaningful and constructive pleasures will help you fill up your daily routine with activities that allow you to reconnect with your real self.For instance, nature enthusiasts can join a hiking group to explore nearby state parks and trails. Likewise, high-rollers can relive the nostalgia of blackjack spreads and gaming slots at a casino online. Artists should consider an art retreat, and makeup enthusiasts must brighten up their social calendars with fun-packed events that give them opportunities to dress up and socialize. Indulging yourself in activities that you loved before depressive symptoms began emerging is constructive and effective. It will help uplift your mood, increase energy levels and motivate you to fight back against depression-induced fatigue and despair.

3.    Connect with Mother Nature

The therapeutic powers of Mother Nature have given birth to innumerable therapies, including forest therapy, adventure therapy, therapeutic farming, and animal-aided interventions. Studies suggest that simply walking through a beautiful natural landscape helps alleviate the symptoms of clinical depression.Spending more time in the wilderness will help improve your mood, energy levels, and cognitive abilities. Plan fun picnics in your local state park, go hiking with your friends or plan a camping adventure with your family. Connecting with nature will help you soak up vitamin D, serenity, and nature-induced happy endorphins.

4.    Scribble Away the Hopelessness

Patients struggling with depression are overwhelmed by feelings of despair, hopelessness, and lack of motivation. As Gotye describes it, one can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, and fighting this state of mind isn’t easy.Psychologists and therapists worldwide advise journaling to find a powerful way to express one’s feelings and emotions. Scribbling away the hopelessness will promote acute awareness of your mood swings, symptoms, and triggers. It will also help you design practical strategies tofight these overwhelming feelings and moods.

Final Thoughts

When one feels shackled by desolation and sadness, even the smallest steps toward reclaiming your happiness have profoundly significant impacts. Clinical depression is increasingly complex and multifaceted, and patients need more than just therapy and medications. Surrounding yourself with the loving care and affection of your friends and family will work wonders at regaining your agency and feeling healthier. 

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Pippa trailer out, shows a glimpse of 1971 Indo-Pak war

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Pippa

Pippa, starring Ishaan Khatter and Mrunal Thakur, is set to open in theaters.The makers released the new trailer on the occasion of the nation’s 75th independence day. The movie is set against the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Raja Krishna Menon has helmed the movie, and other actors, including Soni Razdan and Priyanshu Painyuli, will also be seen on screen with Ishan Khatter and Mrunal Thakur.

In the one-minute trailer, Shaan is seen portraying Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta, a former member of the 45th Cavalry Tank Squadron who fought for Bangladesh.

In a film full of strong emotions and brutal battle sequences, Ishaan plays a young military hero who commands soldiers to liberate then-Eastern Pakistan.The first scene of the warm drama strikes the perfect note with phrases like “Joy Bangla,” the well-known battle cry of the liberation war. Soni and Mrunal, who will be seen as Ishaan’s mother and sibling, respectively, were also given a brief appearance.

Ishaan posted the trailer on Instagram and said,  “PIPPA in cinemas December 2nd, 2022.On the momentous occasion of our country’s Independence Day – presenting a glimpse from a film we’ve collectively put our heart, gut and soul into. May our soil, our people and our culture be blessed always. It’s been an honour to represent the valour and bravery of our defence forces. More to come.”

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