It never rains, but pours — and Soundarya Rajinikanth will vouch for that. To begin with, the Tamil superstar's daughter's much-touted animation film, Kochadaiyaan, had critics lambasting her movie-making skills. And now, her Chennai-based production company, Ochre Picture Productions, has been blamed by a Kannada director for delaying post production work on his film. Raghva Dwarki took to Facebook to complain that Soundarya took seven months to complete a one-month job. "Meeting Soundarya was the biggest disaster of my life," he wrote. Ouch.
Meena Kandaswamy's debut novel, The Gypsy Goddess, based on the 1960 Kilvenmani massacre in Tamil Nadu, has got the thumbs-up from critics. The incident took the lives of 44 Dalits and it is well documented that the police were mute spectators of the massacre and that the judiciary did not convict many of those involved in the crime. Says Kandaswamy, a poet, and one who has been battling caste since she was 17 years old, "I don't know what this novel will do, but even if 10 people read the book and realise how cruel caste is, and if they decide to work towards its annihilation, I will think I've done something successful." While researching for the book, she visited Kilvenmani several times and read everything about the massacre she could lay her hands on. Kandaswamy feels the fiction genre in India — romance, crime, chick lit and campus novels — is woefully predictable. "I'd be much happier if things were shaken up a little," she says. Well, she is certainly doing that with The Gypsy Goddess.
Who says risqué can't exist cheek by jowl with religious? Ask filmmaker R.S. Prasanna, who, after delivering a huge hit with his Tamil comedy film on male impotency, is now working on Quest, a biopic on spiritual leader Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati. "The biggest challenge was to humanise Swamiji and make him relatable," says Prasanna, who used a real-life monk to play the younger swami. There is, in fact, a huge buzz around the film (this is Swami Chinmayananda's birth centenary), which was shot in the Himalayas as well. Prasanna says that Quest is like "a dip in the Ganges" after his first film. Hmm. We can't wait to take that dip too.
It seems Kareena Kapoor loves to surprise her husband. Recently, she suddenly dropped in to visit Saif Ali Khan while he was shooting for the movie, Humshakals. The crew was delighted, of course, and Kapoor sparkled as she interacted with director Sajid Khan and actor Riteish Deshmukh. That's all very well but, Bollywood being Bollywood, people are wondering if Bebo has too much time on her hands and, er, too few movies. Is Ms Kapoor listening?
Paramita Saha, choreographer and co-director of contemporary dance company Sapphire, is mentoring a group of Calcutta youngsters, aged between 18 and 25, for the "Microsoft Create to Inspire" fellowship on sustainability and development. Using various forms of art — music, dance and theatre — they are staging performances in city hotspots to spread awareness about the hazards of littering, wastage of water and e-waste. Mir, comedian and anchor, is also a mentor in a project to check Calcuttans' chronic habit of littering. "The problems that we face every day, be it pollution, littering or traffic, are critically examined through the perspective of my young group of artistes," says Saha. A noble cause, indeed.