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City, transported

We all know that director Rakeysh ‘RDB’ Mehra’s next venture, Dilli 6, is largely based on his own life spent in Delhi’s crowded Chandni Chowk. The problem, however, was how to shoot the street scenes. Enter Samir Chanda, the ace art director. He designed and set up massive sets replicating Chandni Chowk near Jaipur where the shooting is taking place. “To re-create Delhi in Jaipur was a major challenge, and it involved a lot of research. We went to Chandi Chowk and other areas of Delhi to get the feel of the places and we also had to keep the distinct character of the localities in mind,” says the art director of films such as Krrish, Rang De Basanti and Guru. “I feel lucky that film-makers these days really push me to create something that has never been done before, and some of my works will reflect that,” says Chanda who is working with Vishal Bharadwaj and Mani Ratnam in their latest projects. So let’s see what magic he weaves with Dilli 6.

Calling Cal

Jennie Renton is in love with Calcutta. The associate editor of the Edinburgh Review is now promoting Calcutta as a Unesco World City of Literature. “Calcutta fulfils all the conditions to attain such a status,” she says. Renton, who has so far been promoting Indian authors in her literary website Textualities, is all set to take up the city as a cause. “I hope that Calcutta becoming a World City of Literature will also highlight human rights issues such as freedom of speech for writers like Taslima Nasreen,” she remarks. Behind every good intention, clearly, is an even better thought.

Drat that fat

Actor R. Madhavan is trying to lose weight for a girl who is 10 years younger than him. The girl in question is actor Kamal Hassan’s daughter, Shruti. So is Madhavan a cradle snatcher? Not at all — the actor, who says he is “overweight” and looks like a “blob”, needs to lose six kilos for a role in Marathi director Nishikant Kamat’s next film, which is a yet-to-be titled romantic thriller. Shruti, who debuts in the film, plays the female lead opposite Madhavan. And according to the chubby Madhavan, who now weighs 80 kg, “to look compatible with Shruti I’ve to bring my weight down to 74 kilos and I have to do it immediately.” He’d better — or else he may end up looking like Shruti’s father in the new film.

Time for change

Old rockers know Susmit Bose. After all, the 57-year-old was among the first to hit the airwaves with an English album over 35 years ago. And now the man who describes himself as an “urban folk singer” is set to release his new album Be The Change. “My music attempts to capture the voice of the everyday, the problems of the common man and the feelings of the man on the street,” says Bose. His first album Winter Baby, released way back in 1971 by HMV/EMI, was a remarkable achievement, considering the number of outlets for Western music those days in India. But Bose is not struck in a groove. “The current young generation likes my music and the idea of raising awareness about issues through music,” he says, adding that a group of students of Loyola College, Chennai, used his music for an awareness campaign. “As Gandhiji said, in order to change you need to ‘be’ the change,” he says.

Eat this!

After years of single-handedly inaugurating food festivals around Bengal and gulping down umpteen roshogollas in full public view, foodie-cum-politician Subhas Chakraborty finally has company. Sheila Dikshit put aside her duties as Delhi chief minister to drop by at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the capital yesterday, where she flagged off the preparation of the world’s largest serving of biryani, a singular feat aimed at earning a place in the Guinness World Records. An army of chefs rolled up their sleeves for the occasion, which saw 3,000 kg of premium basmati rice cooked in 6,000 litres of water, in a huge vessel fed by slow fire from a gigantic furnace. So the next time Chakraborty throws his hat in the ring and tucks away at those mangoes, don’t start in surprise. Delhi is getting there too.

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