WHY ‘THE STAND’ IS NOT AN UNWORTHY ADAPTATION OF STEPHEN KING’S SEMINAL DARK FANTASY NOVEL - The Daily Guardian
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WHY ‘THE STAND’ IS NOT AN UNWORTHY ADAPTATION OF STEPHEN KING’S SEMINAL DARK FANTASY NOVEL

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Not many authors have consistently written best-selling books that get regularly adapted into films and series. Among those who have done it successfully, the first name that comes to mind is that of the celebrated American author Stephen King. It all started for King with the 1976 film Carrie, directed by Brian de Palma, based on King’s very first novel of the same name. Subsequently, his books have given rise to movies like The Shining (1980), The Dead Zone (1983), Stand by Me  (1986), Misery (1990), Needful Things (1993), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999),  Secret Window (2004), The Mist (2007), The Dark Tower (2016), and Doctor Sleep (2019), among others. Series based on his books include It, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, The Outsider, and The Stand—CBS All Access’ new series that’s being made available in India by Voot Select—based on the 1978 novel of the same name. The nine-episode series follows the survivors of a pandemic caused by a weaponised strain of influenza that kills almost the entire world population. 

Now, The Stand is meant to be a pure escapist adventure which contains some of the best elements associated with Stephen King’s body of work. But while living in pandemic times even escapism comes with its share of caveats. One wonders if it’s really an escapist adventure to see people getting killed by a deadly strain of influenza. So take the plunge only if you can handle it! For those of you who are still with me, let me assure you that The Stand will take you through an entire gamut of emotions. In writing the book, King sought to create an epic in the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien’s  The Lord of the Rings that was set in contemporary America. And so naturally it wasn’t an easy book to write for him. While writing The Stand, King nearly stopped because of writer’s block. But, he toiled and lucubrated to finally produce what’s widely regarded as his greatest work. 

When some of the simplest of King’s books aren’t a cinch to adapt, one can very well imagine how challenging it would have been for Josh Boone and Benjamin Cavell to adapt King’s seminal dark fantasy novel. To their credit, Boone and Cavell appear to have given their level best. But, is their best good enough? Well, the answer is yes and no. Let’s try and explore this in detail.

The series hooks us up from the word go. We learn that the “Captain Trips” flu epidemic has wiped out more than 99% of the human population. The remaining few immune to the disease, including Stu Redman (a widower from Texas essayed by James Mardsen), Frannie Goldsmith (a college student from Maine essayed by Odessa Young), and Harold Lauder (a young man obsessively in love with Frannie portrayed by Owen Teague), set out in search of other survivors with the hope of saving humanity from extinction. All this while, they experience visions of the nurturing Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg), and the menacing figure of Randall Flagg aka The Dark Man (Alexander Skarsgård). Soon a few more interesting characters get added to the mix: Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), a musician on the cusp of his big break when the flu strikes New York, Nick Andros (essayed by Henry Zaga), a young deaf man, and Nadine Cross (portrayed by Amber Heard), a beautiful woman haunted by a childhood memory.  

The CBS All Access series is marked by constant tonal shifts. To begin with, it presents some great moments of disgust when you can’t help but feel repulsed or freaked out. There are also loads of steamy moments on offer. Not to mention, the unrelenting mystery and suspense driving the narrative forward. The nonlinear approach helps in keeping one interested in the characters’ backstories. Take, for example, the case of Larry Underwood. Before landing up with other survivors he ends up all alone, wandering an empty city. His luck changes when he meets an alluring new acquaintance who is also desperate to escape. The two form a strong bond before things once again change for the worse. Similarly, Harold’s obsessive love for Frannie goes back to the days when she used to babysit for him. When the flu breaks out he suddenly starts perceiving himself as her protector.

What The Stand lacks is consistency and clarity in the narrative. While some of the character arcs are done really well, others leave a lot to be desired. Frannie, for example, is supposed to be a major female character but she doesn’t take the centre stage in the series the way she takes in the novel. In comparison, some of the male characters get a lot more focus, even when it’s not warranted. But, the performances are superb. Skarsgård, Heard, Teague, and Adepo deserve a special mention. The series also features a few memorable cameos including a delectable one by none other than J. K. Simmons. The Stand is not a great adaptation of King’s seminal dark fantasy novel but it’s certainly not an unworthy one either.

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

MY CLOTHES ARE TRADITIONAL CHIC: SAWAN GANDHI ON HIS EPONYMOUS INDIAN-WEAR LABEL

Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi’s garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, among others. The Delhi-based designer tells us more about his brand.

Noor Anand Chawla

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September brings with it plenty of festivities and fun. No industry celebrates this time of the year better than the fashion industry, with designers launching their exclusive winter-festive collections. Delhi-based Sawan Gandhi, Creative Director and Founder of his eponymous Indian-wear label, also launched his collection ‘Taahir’ this week. In a candid chat with The Daily Guardian, he shares insight into his design journey and his new line. Excerpts:

Taahir by Sawan GandhiNayaab by Sawan Gandhi

Sawan Gandhi – Creative Director and Founder

Q. Tell us about your journey in this business so far. What makes you stand apart in this competitive industry?

A. Soon after college, I decided to pursue my interest in the creative field and stepped into the fashion industry. With no prior experience or knowledge, I started my own label in 2011 with a few creations which I shared with my relatives and friends. I was always intrigued by my mother’s collection of lightweight chikankari sarees and their understated elegance, which is where most of my design inspiration stems from. My first showroom was launched in 2013 in Hauz Khas Village, followed by my flagship store in Mehrauli which was inaugurated in 2017, and now we also retail on our website www.sawangandhi.com.

I term my signature style as consisting of ethereal ensembles, soft colour palettes, and intricate craftsmanship and I believe these components give my designs a distinctive flair. My creations offer a young perspective to Indian attire while relying on beautiful old-world elements. I draw inspiration from vintage styles and combine them with our signature chikankari embroidery and sequin work. Also, I ensure that our garments are wearable and light. 

Q. What does label Sawan Gandhi stand for as a brand? 

A. Our philosophy is to make every occasion unconventionally beautiful. We do this by using soothing colours that are sure to make the wearer stand out in a crowd. Each outfit is designed so that it can be styled in multiple ways, which also engenders a sustainable approach towards fashion choices. Ever since I started out, I have tried to consciously step away from the heavy looks adorned by brides and grooms by using traditional techniques and contemporary hues to elevate each creation.

I believe a loyal client base is the bedrock of any label and word of mouth has been our primary source of PR since the beginning. My clientele includes customers from across the country and our collections are showcased at multi-designer showrooms like Aza, Ogaan, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, and Fuel. Along with this, our brand also has an international presence in London, Jakarta, Bangkok, Dubai, Canada, and Los Angeles. 

Q. Tell us about your latest collection? What techniques have you used for this collection? 

A. My latest collection ‘Taahir’ has been curated specially for the new age Indian wedding. Breaking traditional rules of Indian weddings, the collection highlights the radiance of festivities and celebrations through lightweight attire, soft palettes, and flowy drapes. The colour palette is in themes of ivory, beige, soft pinks, blues, and yellows. It’s a fusion of traditional with chic with interplay of light and shadow, structure and fluidity, volume and lightness, to create subtle drama. 

Our outfits make people feel confident in their own style and individuality. An array of alluring colours, appliqué motifs, subtle tonal embroidery highlighted with Swarovski crystals and hand-dyed beads used by our studio artisans, gives each outfit a reflection of bespoke elegance. 

Q. Many celebrities and eminent personalities have been spotted in your clothes. What do you believe attracts them to your work?

A. Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, amongst a few others. I believe they are most attracted to the light wearability our clothes offer that allow them to look and feel gorgeous. It has been great to witness the evolution of our brand in the fashion industry and it makes me feel really positive and excited. 

Q. What have been your biggest challenges in recent times? How have you overcome them?

A. Lockdown weddings are a recent trend and now the focus has shifted from big fat Indian weddings to small intimate weddings. Fortunately, the excitement and happiness of the occasion is the same even though there has been an indefinite halt to larger gatherings and festivities. These micro weddings take place in more relaxed environments and in turn need relaxed outfits in beautiful colours to complement the various functions. 

Q. What have been the most rewarding moments for you so far?

A. Watching my designs being recognised in the Indian fashion industry and witnessing my collections being received so well internationally fill me with tremendous happiness and contentment. 

Q. What are you working on next?

A. Currently, I am working on my next cocktail wear collection which we’re hoping to shoot by the end of this month. 

The interviewer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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FORMAT OF PRIYANKA’S NEW SHOW, THE ACTIVIST, CHANGED

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WASHINGTON: After facing huge backlash, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ new series ‘The Activist’ is now being reconfigured. As per Variety, the makers have shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. Many social media users slammed the show for being tone-deaf and insensitive. CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation issued this statement, “The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience, the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others. But it has become apparent the format of the show distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. So we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced), it will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice.”

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CHRIS PRATT TO BANKROLL ‘STRANDED ASSET’

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WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Chris Pratt is all set to produce the action-comedy ‘Stranded Asset’, which is written by Sam Richardson and Jen D’Angelo.

According to Variety, the upcoming film reunites the trio after their successful collaboration on ‘The Tomorrow War’, which Pratt executive produced and starred in alongside Richardson. D’Angelo was the on-set writer for the sci-fi feature. Pratt will produce ‘Stranded Asset’ through his Indivisible Productions banner. Sam Richardson will also star in the film. More details of the project have not been announced yet. 

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TABU TO STAR IN VISHAL BHARDWAJ’S FILM ‘KHUFIYA’

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MUMBAI: Tabu is all set to work with ace filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj again in ‘Khufiya’, which will release on Netflix.

Based on an espionage novel ‘Escape to Nowhere’ by Amar Bhushan, ‘Khufiya’ is a a spy thriller. Excited to reunite with Bhardwaj, Tabu shared on Instagram, “Expect nothing but sheer thrill. Excited to announce my re-uniting with @vishalrbhardwaj for #Khufiya. Coming very soon on @netflix_in. Khufiya is a one of a kind project, extremely close to my heart and I am excited to be a part of this gripping spy thriller. As always, it’s a delight working with VB (Vishal Bhardwaj) again, and feels like homecoming.” ‘Khufiya’ is a story about Krishna Mehra, an R&AW operative who is assigned to track down India’s defence secrets. Bhardwaj is trying to create an edgy espionage film that contrasts the slow burn of intelligence and surveillance work with deep-rooted emotional conflicts. 

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BIG B MISSES PRE-PANDEMIC ‘SUNDAY DARSHAN’ WITH FANS

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MUMBAI: Waving to fans gathered outside his Jalsa residence used to be megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s Sunday morning routine. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Big B stopped the ritual. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday, Amitabh took a stroll down memory lane and expressed his sadness on not being able to meet his well-wishers. “Thank you well wisher .. yes .. when will those Sunday well wishers at Jalsa return,” he wrote. Alongside the note, Big B posted an image of himself surrounded by imaginary fans and he was seen embracing them as the human connection has gotten a bit lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Amitabh is busy hosting the new season of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. Speaking of films, he will be seen in ‘Good Bye’, ‘Brahmastra’, and ‘The Intern’ remake.

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JACQUELINE GETS CANDID WITH ARJUN ON ‘BAK BAK WITH BABA’

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MUMBAI: Arjun Kapoor recently invited Jacqueline Fernandez on his digital chat show ‘Bak Bak with Baba’. Arjun questioned Jacqueline on crushes, food, and how she tackles trolls on social media. Talking about her first crush, Jacqueline said, “There was somebody in school but I can’t name him. I also had a huge crush on Leonardo DiCaprio after watching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Titanic’ and Ricardo from ‘Backstreet Boys’.” Arjun asked her “How important is food to you?” She shared, “though I feel it’s nice to celebrate with food as everyone enjoys it, there was a phase in my 20’s when I did turn to food and that was late at night. I lived alone so it was like cake, ice cream, anything crispy. I did have a terrible relationship with food and then went starving for a week and that’s really bad. So, now it’s about knowing that I don’t need to turn to it, tomorrow is another day and we will get through it.”

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