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Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Silver linings in Bolly ban cloud

tBollywood releases are on hold, thanks to the stand-off between producers and distributors. Though hope lives that the biggest budget Hindi film ever made, The Hero, will make it to the big screen on April 11 on schedule, it is wiser not to keep all your entertainment eggs in one basket. Take heart — the fare on the small screen, and imports on the large screen should tide film buffs over for a while.

The words “all that jazz” will never quite be the same once you catch Chicago. Miss this sexy, dark musical, playing at Nandan, at your own risk. Catherine Zeta-Jones lights up the screen with her bitchy ways and phenomenal moves. Richard Gere loses every ethic he may have had in a role one could not have imagined the ‘pretty’ boy in, and Renee Zellweger’s transformation into a scheming vixen is delightful. Queen ‘Mamma’ Latifah with her 1,000-watt voice is laugh-out-loud magic.

More magic, this time the real stuff, with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, scheduled to hit the halls sometime soon. As the world’s reigning wizard comes back for a second escapade at Hogwarts, watch out for a film that viewers have declared wins hands down over the first.

Equally ‘precious’ — Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, on at New Empire. Brilliant visual effects merge with high drama and top-notch performances to carry forward the classic three-part tale from Tolkein. Add to that truly heroic (read: gorgeous in battle-gear) men battling to save Middle Earth, and you have a great watch lined up. But if you haven’t seen the first part, make sure you take a navigator with you.

The action is non-stop with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Knights, which follows Shanghai Noon, playing at Jyoti. The martial-arts action comedy is set in London after its predecessor “tamed the Wild West”. Also, wait and watch out for The Recruit starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell.

If the sweltering summer is keeping you indoors, no sweat, as the stars are shining big and bright. If you didn’t catch one of last year’s biggest films, Bend it Like Beckham, another chance is knocking on your couch. This Sunday, 9 pm, the Gurinder Chaddha superhit, starring Parminder Nagra, will be kicking up a storm on Star Movies.

More melody, more masti from last year’s favourite musical. The Bohemian love story Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, will be on the same channel on April 11.

The Oscar action continues, in the form of Girl, Interrupted (with Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie), on HBO, April 26. See what Madonna’s hubby Guy Ritchie is made of, in his directorial venture Snatch, starring Brad Pitt, beaming into homes on April 23.

If your heart is set on a Hindi flick, there are still options aplenty. For a masala mix, laced with a generous dose of irony, don’t miss Tumko Na Bhool Payenge on Zee Cinema, April 25. Salman, who just can’t get Ash, Diya or Somi out of his system, can’t seem to forget his co-star Sushmita Sen, either.

Veteran film-maker Basu Chatterjee explains a scene to lead players Bharat Kaul and Swastika Mukherjee while shooting for Baidehi — Chatterjee's fresh foray into telefilms — at a house in Hindustan Park. Picture by Aranya Sen

It may have bombed at the box-office, but if you want to catch up with a once-box-office-happy couple, tune into Kareena and Tusshar Kapoor in Jeena Sirf Merre Liye on Zee TV, April 24.

Zee Cinema has a few old faves lined up, like Andaz Apna Apna, also on April 24. Dhadkan, which surprised many as the action avatars of Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty slipped to reveal some quality stuff, is also coming up on April 20. Even if it’s just eye-candy you’re looking for, Milind Soman in 16 December on April 27, could be worth more than a passing glance.

So, happy viewing…

War against art

The war seems to have given some people the opportunity to prove that they are artists. The latest to join the battle bandwagon is the International Young Artists Organisation currently holding an exhibition at Chemould gallery to protest American aggression. A press release claims they are a “world-wide organisation” that has several shows to its credit in Calcutta and Dhaka.

If the current show, entitled “No War”, is anything to go by, the organisation should either stop holding exhibitions or should pull up their socks immediately. There are about six participants with 22 works on display. The weapons of war and destruction are supposedly suggested by something that resembles a home-made, upright rocket dating back to the days of the Sputnik and torn newspaper headlines highlighting the carnage of civilians and children in the war on Iraq. Dummies wrapped like mummies lie on the floor next to the missile. Could we think of more half-baked ideas about war and violence' And why was an attempt made to create an installation at all' Only to be ‘with it’'

The other paintings, if they deserve that appellation, are whorls and dashes of dark colour, structureless and formless and executed without any finesse whatsoever. The participants must have been compelled to contribute anything that came to mind. Or else why should they be so wrongheaded'

In step with Davar

Jazz, salsa, rap, rock ’n’ roll and Afro jazz… from none other than choreographer and dextrous dancer Shiamak Davar. The man behind the moves of many Bollywood hits is coming to Calcutta under the Shiamak Davar’s Institute for Performing Arts banner, for a summer workshop, from April 7 to 19, at three venues — Jyotirmai Club on Garcha Road, Taj Bengal and Chandan Niketan on Shakespeare Sarani. Conducted by performers from the Mumbai Institute, the programme will be split into eight hour-long sessions a day at each venue, accommodating 30 to 35 people of all ages in each batch. The organisers, Jyotirmai Club, are trying to “squeeze in as many participants as possible”, with over 300 already signed up. Registrations are open till April 7, for a price of Rs 2,500. The grand finale is a show at the Science City auditorium on April 20.

Of women by woman

She left her PhD dissertion incomplete as her writing style was adjudged “too entertaining for academics”. But Anjana Basu’s romance with the written word had continued for too long for her to abandon the pen. So 21 long years ago, she had switched to advertising.

And on Thursday, her first novel will be launched at Seagull Bookstore. “The idea of Curses in Ivory came to me when my grandma died. Women of that generation led such amazing lives, suffering so much in silence,” says the adviser to Wysiwyg, an advertising agency.

Curses in Ivory is a richly textured tale of three generations of women who live under the spell of an ancestral curse, brought upon them by the smashing of a statue of Goddess Durga. “I finished the story around six years ago and passed it around among my friends for their comments.” She kept making alterations till she thought the manuscript was ready. For a pro with over 20 years in advertising, was it not tough to switch from pithy prose that ad copies demand' “I kept hoping I wouldn’t catch the style,” laughs the author, who started life at HTA and counts the ITC Classic campaign and the Wills Made for Each Other yearbooks as her favourite assignments.

But the novel has not been a sudden leap from copywriting, either. “My first published work was for a newspaper at age 12. Then on, I have been writing poems and short stories,” she points out.

Orient Longman brought out some of Basu’s short stories in 1994, while BBC World Service broadcast one (Smoke gets in your eyes) in 1999. She was also featured in Penguin India’s anthology of poems In their Own Voices.

Thursday evening promises to be more than a launch (by filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh). While former Presidency College teacher Kajal Sengupta will read excerpts, Shyamashree Lal, Sucheta Mukherji of Loreto College and socialite Romola Bhattacharya will share experiences of their own families.

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