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Cinema
8 Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy – A Rebirth

Have you ever met Apu – Satyajit Ray’s Apu? If not, this is your chance to finally make his acquaintance – and he’s looking better than ever before. As film fans know, ‘The Apu Trilogy’ is master filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s seminal work, a story that is bound to touch whoever sees it, because it is our story. We may never have stepped into a Bengali village or lived in that simple yet hard world a century ago but this tale of family, struggle and aspirations speaks to something so universal, so human that it affects us all.

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2 NYIFF – The Power of Cinema, One movie at a time…

What would be a filmiholic’s idea of heaven? A week full of back-to-back viewings of the most intriguing films, a mixed bag of drama, suspense, comedy and chills – by some of the most noted directors in Indian cinema. Think Vishal Bharadwaj, Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Hansal Mehta and Shonali Bose. Then there is the joy of seeing the work of so many regional filmmakers as well as getting to know so many new directors. Lots of films by Indian-American filmmakers too, including ‘Miss India America’ and ‘Meet the Patels’.

All this is happening at the upcoming New York Indian Film Festival with over 30 films, 30 alternate worlds to get lost in. You’ll find love, loss, laughter – and life…

Cinema
2 Gangs of Wasseypur Invade New York

Watch out, the wild Gangs of Wasseypur have come to New York and no one’s going to be spared! Anurag Kashyap’s stunning mafia odyssey will hook you, grab you and get you.
It is the very heart of darkness, a revenge saga where there’s no business like the don business and where firing a gun is as normal as brushing your teeth. Every random unknown on a scooter, armed with an AK47, is a killing machine.
As a visitor to Wasseypur, albeit in the theater, you need to have a high tolerance for bloodshed – after a while even your popcorn seems to be tinged with blood.

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2 A Family Snapshot from Akhil Sharma

‘Family Life’, Akhil Sharma’s new novel, is devastating – about the unpredictability of life, of how 3 minutes can change it forever.

Yet it is also about the resilience of the human spirit and how we can keep raising the bar on the amount of grief and pain we are able to tolerate – all for love. And sometimes for guilt.

Deceptively small, ‘Family Life’ comes with a lot of turbulence packed into it – each page takes you into human lives which are raw and conflicted.

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0 Women Inc: Can You Eat Your Cake & Have it Too?

“My first performance was at Birla auditorium at the age of 5,” recalls Poonam Kay. ” I had to stand on a folding chair and sing a duet with my mother’s male duet singer, Jethalal. The song was Yeh parda hata do, zara mukhda dikha do.” Many years later she is a recording artist, producer and TV personality. This year she released her new album ‘Nachle Ve’ with music composed by noted Bollywood film music director Anand Raj Anand. Yet she has another avatar, that of business entrepreneur.

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4 In Search of Yoga's Shining Past

“But isn’t yoga an English word?”

This was the plaintive response one American had when she was told that yoga’s original birthplace was India. Indeed, this ancient practice from India has traveled so far and been so cut off from its moorings that many current day practitioners in the west seem to think it was always a part of American life.

Now comes a comprehensive art exhibition in America, the first of its kind, which through the language of visuals – paintings, sculptures and photographs – traces yoga’s roots back to India, back to Gods and Goddesses, back to spiritual and philosophical aspirations. It can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art from June 22 to September 7, 2014.

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0 Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider' – In the Land of Disappeared People

There is a maniac energy about ‘Haider’ – and a maniac desire among viewers to immerse themselves in this film. Yes, a film scribe I know turned up at this advance screening, bleary-eyed and disheveled, suitcase in tow, straight from the airport – rather than miss this first screening of Vishal Bhardwaj’s much awaited film!

It is a brutal, blood-stained Kashmir, etchings of a brooding, bereft landscape, a city of disappeared people. It shows that Shakespeare’s tale of deceit and murder, of treachery and lost ideals is a universal tale and relevant to all humans. Bhardwaj has successfully transported the ill-starred Danish Prince to Kashmir, and made it an indigenous, very authentic Indian tale.

Cinema
9 Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues

This festive season, welcome to Nina Paley’s animated film ‘Sita Sings the Blues’, yet another retelling of India’s great epic, Ramayana. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it, as some have done, ‘Sitayana’ for it tells the tale from the perspective of Sita, not unlike the oral retellings through the ages by village women that made Sita the focus of the story. Only here the story is told through the jazz tradition of torch songs, of a lovely, smoky voiced lament more often heard in a dark New York lounge or bar, than in the rural outposts of India.

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16 'Entertainment': Akshay Kumar on Dogs, Wife, Life

Bollywood superstars hardly ever play second fiddle to anyone – be it heroines or villains. They dance with beauties who are often just icing on the cake and they bash carloads of villains. Yet now we have Bollywood biggie Akshay Kumar deferring to – a dog!

In ‘Entertainment’, a fun comedy being released this week, it’s a dog’s life for the swashbuckling Akshay as he competes with man’s best friend for his family inheritance – and what can one say but – may the best dog win! Yes, this dog does everything – even get married! And the Big Fat Indian Wedding is quite hilarious. An interview with Akshay Kumar on everything from dogs to dreams.

Travel
3 The India Blog: Munching India

I was in the fabulous Udaivilas in Udaipur, enjoying the morning breakfast feast, when my eyes lit up. No, it wasn’t some grand Rajput jewels which had so excited me, though these gems I speak of were a rich golden orange and came wrapped in a delicate outer covering of gossamer beige.

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