Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I don’t care about being typecast: Esha Gupta

IANS MO D E L - T U R N E D - ACTRESS Esha Gupta has showcased her bold and daring side in Jannat 2 and Raaz 3, but she says she doesn’t care about being typecast in the Hindi film industry.

Her next film Chakravyuh, which delves into the Naxalite movement, might feature her in a deglam role, but she says the subject itself is bold.

“I don’t care about being typecast. It’s the requirement of the movie. Everyone is saying this (Chakravyuh) is a bold film as the topic is bold. For me, the story and the script is bold, not the scenes,” Esha said.

There is a cosy scene between Esha and Arjun Rampal in Chakravyuh.

“Prakash Jha told me this scene comes when Arjun is completely broken in the movie. There is no lovemaking or kissing as such. (I think when) We are following everything like the west, why make a big deal? We wanted to show the nature of a husband and wife,” Esha said in justification of the scene.

The dusky beauty, who loves to glam up, didn’t even mind putting on a less glamourous look for the movie.

“I love dressing up! Coming from New Delhi, I always dressed up and went out. So I can’t change myself (personally), but for a character I can always do so I am okay with that,” she said.

“Prakash said I want you to look earthy in the film because she (the character) is today’s woman, well-spoken.

He said ‘I don’t want you to look shabby’, but of course there were no open hairs, no sexy clothes, very less make-up and I was okay with that as it was a character’s requirement,” added Esha.

She even admits how she craved to be a part of Jha’s film.

“When I got this opportunity, I jumped on it. That time I was shooting for Raaz 3 and I called Mahesh (Bhatt) sir. He said, ‘We will give you the dates even if it’s a two-minute role. Do the film because Prakash is a brilliant filmmaker’,” said Esha.

Chakravyuh also features Abhay Deol, Manoj Bajpayee, Kabir Bedi and Anjali Patil. The film is slated to release on October 24.

Indian Bond girl? Why not, says Broccoli

IANS THE cast and crew of latest James Bond film Skyfall felt it was “too ambitious” to shoot certain action sequences for the movie in India, but producer Barbara Broccoli says they haven’t ruled out coming to the country for a new 007 installment, and won’t even mind roping in an Indian Bond girl in future.

“We certainly are on a lookout for talented beautiful women. If we make a film in India, we will have an Indian actress,” Broccoli said during a web conference from New York with reporters.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the latest super spy thriller Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, is set to release in India on November 1
The movie features British actress Naomie Harris as the Bond girl, who is usually marked for her glamourous and sophisticated demeanour.

The choice of Bond girl for every 007 movie depends purely on the character, says Broccoli.

“Normally when we are casting for a Bond woman, our casting director looks for Bond women all around the world, and then we go through several rounds (of auditions) for that. And then finally when we reach the finalists, we bring them into Britain to meet Daniel (Daniel Craig).

“Lots of people are considered, it comes down to what the character requires and in this film (Skyfall), we needed a British female agent working alongside Bond,” she added.

A key action sequence of Skyfall was due to be shot in India.

The producers wanted to shoot high-speed stunts on the Indian Railways, and had requested for clearances to shoot on the rooftop of a moving train, as well as inside a tunnel. However, they faced a few stumbling blocks in getting permission due to safety and security issues, and decided to shoot elsewhere.

Broccoli says the complexity of the scenes would have made it very difficult to shoot in India.

“Typically, we do visit various countries when we are looking to find locations. So we did come to India to look (for locations).

Because of the complexities with the title sequence... we did have a big chase with the cars and the motorcycle and trains.

“We looked at India as a possibility, but given the traffic, the complexities of having to shoot such a big scene, we would have had to shove off many roads and cause a lot of disruption. we felt it would be too ambitious to do the scene in India,” she said. This wouldn’t have been the first instance of an India connect in a Bond film.

Parts of the 1983 Bond film Octopussy, which featured Indian actors Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj, were shot in Udaipur.

Broccoli says they would love to come back to the country for another project.

“We had a wonderful time shooting Octopussy in India. We had fun and it looked absolutely beautiful on screen. We know we have a lot of fans in India so we would love to have the opportunity to come back to India as soon as possible,” she said.

Grammys give Whitney Houston a glittering salute


-ROY REUTERS WHITNEY Houston was given a final sendoff by the Grammys on Thursday as Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and other stars shared their memories and performed in homage to the late singer.

Academy-award winner Berry made a tearful introduction at the We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston special, and praised the “unforgettable” performer.

“She inspired a generation of little girls and women to believe in their own dream and to know that they had within themselves the greatest gift of all. I was one of those little girls who then became a woman who never ever, ever, stopped loving Whitney Houston,” Berry said.

The event was attended by Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, who was joined by boyfriend Nick Gordon and sister-in-law Pat Houston.

Noticeably absent was Houston’s mother, Cissy, and her brother Gary. Record label executive Clive Davis, who discovered the late singer, sat alongside the family in the front row.

The tribute comes towards the end of a year in which the music world was rocked by Houston’s sudden death at age 48 in February. She was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub on the night before the Grammy awards, from what authorities said was accidental drowning brought on by cocaine use and heart disease.

A homage to Houston was quickly put together at the Grammy awards in February with Jennifer Hudson singing a heart-felt rendition of I Will Always Love You on a stage lit by a single spotlight. Later in May, R&B star Jordin Sparks, who co-starred with Houston in the late singer’s final movie Sparkle, sang the same song at the Billboard Music Awards in tribute.

There was no mention of Houston’s turbulent personal life and history of drug abuse on Thursday as the Grammy organisers decided to focus on the late singer’s career achievements and best-known performances, including her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at the 1991 Superbowl.

Hudson on Thursday channelled Houston’s style from the 1980s with big hair and a glittering blazer, performing more uptempo numbers with a medley of I’m Every Woman, How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

R&B star Usher sang I Believe In You And Me and gospel singers Cece Winans and Yolanda Adams delivered a rousing performance of Count On Me, which had Houston’s family in tears.

Canadian singer Celine Dion was on the bill to perform on the night but was unable to make it, taping her rendition of The Greatest Love Of All in Canada to air during the televised special.

The event organisers decided to leave Houston’s bestknown song, I Will Always Love You, to the late singer, showing a tape of her singing at the 1994 Grammy awards.

Presenters at the event shared their memories. Pop star and X Factor judge Spears said her version of Houston’s I Have Nothing scored her a deal with a record label and started her career.

The audience were also treated to exclusive interviews from the early days of Houston’s career, showing her talking about fame, philosophy and religion.

Plus size TV stars make peace with pounds



ON her new show, The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling plays a single doctor who is irked but not undone by a male colleague telling her she should lose 15 pounds.

Neither is Hannah, the character Lena Dunham plays on her HBO comedy, Girls. When a boyfriend asked her about her tummy flab, Hannah replied: “No, I have not tried a lot to lose weight. Because I decided I was going to have some other concerns in my life.” On the MTV show Awkward it’s the high school bully, Sadie (Molly Tarlov), who is a little overweight, not her victims, and her avoirdupois doesn’t diminish Sadie’s power or confidence.

Self-acceptance has become a new form of defiance on television, especially among younger female comedians. Partly that’s because it’s refreshingly unusual. There’s little comic shock value left in profanity, obscenity or intolerance, but it’s still quite rare and surprising to see a woman not obsess about her waistline.

And gaining weight, it turns out, is the most outrageous stunt Lady Gaga has pulled to date. Instead of wearing raw animal flesh at a public event this summer, she wore her own – the one metamorphosis that even Madonna wouldn’t dare undertake. “I am not going to go on a psycho-spree because of scrutiny,” the singer stated after admitting she gained 25 pounds. “This is who I am.

And I am proud at any size.” Lady Gaga isn’t the first to fill out; if anything she is a follower in the sudden rise of the unapologetically not-thin. A few performers have flouted convention by flaunting a curvy figure, notably Kat Dennings, a star of 2 Broke Girls, Christina Hendricks of Mad Men and Christina Aguilera on The Voice. But it’s most evident in female comedians like Dunham and Kaling, who have more power to break rules: by writing their own material and creating shows inspired by their lives, they can set their own standards of beauty and defy the dictate of stylists and casting directors in a way that other actresses cannot.

A lot of rules are being broken in romantic comedy. It used to be that plain, stocky fellows like Seth Rogen surprised everyone and got the gorgeous girl. Now Rebel Wilson, an Australian actress and comedy writer, is the plus-size bride who gets a dashing, adoring groom in Bachelorette.

And in that sense this license to eat marks a generational shift from comedians in their 40s like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who made their mark by being funny and also more feminine and pretty than comedy pioneers like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers. Fey has said she lost some 30 pounds to make the move from Saturday Night Live writer to performer.

Dunham and her cohorts – a generation raised on Tyra Banks don’t-judge-me rants and afterschool programs about anorexia – are rebelling against the ever more exacting standard of beauty in show business.

They don’t go on diets or have liposuction to fit into red-carpet outfits; they let out a seam. (Dunham actually did one better: in a skit for the Emmy Awards last month, she posed unclothed on top of a toilet seat, eating an entire cake.) Tarlov said in Seventeen magazine that Sadie is interesting because she isn’t defined by her figure or hampered by it socially: “When people talk about characters who struggle with their weight or with food they go to either end of the extreme; there are rarely characters who are just a little bit heavy. That’s what I think is really incredible about this show; it’s not like Sadie is in danger or anything.” Theirs is a celebration of moderate immoderation that clashes with the prevailing tendency to go always to the furthest edge of excess, especially when the subject is weight.

Fat is perhaps the most overexamined problem in America, where there is no right or wrong, just yo-yo extremes. One second women are encouraged to embrace their fuller selves in ads for Pond’s and in talk shows, women’s magazines and reality series like Curvy Girls, which follows a group of plus-size models.

And the next, talk show hosts, women’s magazines, Hollywood, health experts, the first lady and Mayor Michael R Bloomberg sound the alarm about the obesity epidemic.

Fashion has it both ways: models and actresses are stick-thin on runways and red carpets, but department stores have entire sections dedicated to plus-size designer clothes by the likes of Michael Kors and Calvin Klein.

Accordingly, society makes a show of supporting people who make peace with their extra pounds, but we really celebrate those who declare war on their bodies. Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor in Wisconsin, went on the air to publicly scold a viewer who wrote her an email suggesting that her excess weight made her a poor role model, and she became a cause celebre. But on its daily news crawl, CNN gives the same breaking-news urgency to an item about the death toll in Syria and a comedian who underwent gastric surgery (“Lisa Lampanelli loses 80 pounds”).

Somewhere in between there are women coming forward to claim the category “none of the above.” But it still requires some explaining. In a collection of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” Kaling put it this way: “Since I am not model-skinny, but also not superfat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous ‘Normal American Woman Size’ that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a Size 8 (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist.

They’re like ‘Pick a lane.”’ And that Manichaean scale is all too evident on the screen. Actresses and reality-show stars are either whippet thin or startlingly large, especially after The Biggest Loser turned massive displays of weight into a politically palatable spectacle, shaping what could look like a freak show into a self-help manifesto.

There was always room in comedy for a fat friend, but it’s only recently that overweight women started being cast as romantic heroines or sexual temptresses. Donna on Parks and Recreation, who is played by the actress and comedian Retta, has an active love life and a naughty streak. (She reads 50 Shades of Grey at the office.) Wilson of Bachelorette also has a star turn in the movie Pitch Perfect as a plump and uninhibited college a cappella singer who cheerfully calls herself Fat Amy so others won’t have to behind her back.

Society is beginning to be more honest about the price some women pay to stay thin, helped along by celebrities who almost daily confess to eating disorders like bulimia, most recently Nicole Scherzinger, former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls.

On the recent USA channel miniseries Political Animals, the beautiful, perfect and petite fiancee Anne (Brittany Ishibashi) leaves her engagement dinner to slip into the ladies room and put her fingers down her throat to toss up her meal.

Drop Dead Diva was a breakthrough hit for Lifetime when it began in 2009, because the lead character, Jane Bingum, played by Brooke Elliott, was plus-size. But fat was still a touchy subject; writers posited a woman who is obese only because of a twist of fate: a slim, bubbleheaded blonde dies and comes back to life switched into the physique of a smart, Rubenesque lawyer.

Mike & Molly (CBS), which costars Melissa McCarthy, is a comedy about very overweight lovers, but the joke isn’t really about flab, it’s about the odd-couple romance of people who met at Overeaters Anonymous.

These characters reflect a changing American norm: just as many designers chose in the 1990s to deregulate dress sizes (a Size 8 is now a 10, adjusted for body inflation), entertainment producers have had to find room for women in sizes that are familiar to most of America – then double them for comic or dramatic effect.

And that is what’s so seditious about comedians like Dunham and Kaling: Their weight is no big deal.

They can be a little defensive when people ask about their extra few pounds, but they don’t let it deter or define them. To prepare for a blind date Mindy changes her outfit, not her dress size. Dunham has Hannah prance around her apartment in her underwear, unself-conscious.

Sharshani shines in jet ski event


DOHA WALEED AL SHARSHANI reserved his best in the biggest race and clinched the Runabout Super Stock class at the Qatar International Jet Ski Championship, the first of the three-round series.

At the Wakrah Port, pole winner Sharshani, an international sailor with the 2006 Asian Games silver medal to his credit, bagged the 11-lap race with 22 minutes and 31.20 seconds.

He edged Rashid Ebrahim al Mannai, an international bike rider, by more than a half minute to pocket the top purse of QR24,000. Mannai, who clocked 23:11.82, earned QR 18,000. The third place was taken by Mohamed Abdullah al Heidous, who claimed QR15,000 with a time of 23:19.25. Both Mannai and Heidous were involved a tight battle for the second place, despite the latter beginning the race from the fourth place. But Heidous was edged by Mannai by about six seconds.

The same drivers dominated the Runabout Stock category also. But it was Heidous who was crowned the champion in the nine-lap race and won Qr14,000 with 16:44.21 time.

Mannai, who got QR11,000, was beaten to the second place by less than two seconds.

Sharshani took the last podium spot and banked QR 8,000.

Sharshani was also third in the Ski Division F1 class, which was won by French rider Ludovic Caumont. He clocked 17:39.66 in the 10-lap race to claim QR12,000. Rashid al Owais of the UAE took the second place and QR 9,000.

Abdulaziz Hamad Alomar of Kuwait raced superbly and won the Runabout Stock class, starting from the third spot. He was timed in 16:08.07 in the eight-lap race. The win was worth QR10,000. UAE’s Hamad Yousuf Allanjawi and Saudi Arabian Hesham Sami Baksh took the second and third spots in a very close race.

All the three winners were decided in a space of about six seconds.

The second and penultimate round will take place on November 2 and 3, while the final round is scheduled on November 12 and 13.

Rungkat top-seeded in 3rd Qatar Futures tennis


DOHA THE fourth Qatar ITF Futures, which began at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on Monday, is guaranteed to produce a new champion.

France’s Clement Reix, who won two titles in as many weeks, is not present in the draw of this week’s event.

The pride of place has gone to Indonesian Christopher Rungkat, a winner of seven singles Futures titles, with two of them coming this year in Thailand and Indonesia.

Benjamin Balleret from Monaco is the No. 2 seed and hopes to have a stronger showing than in last week’s event where he lost in the first round.

Oliver Golding of Great Britain is the No. 3 seed and the finalist from the second Qatar ITF Futures.

Other seeds are No. 4 Marek Semjan from Slovakia, No. 5 Roman Jebavy from the Czech Republic, No. 6 Abdullah Maqdas from Kuwait, No. 7 James Marsalek from Great Britain and No. 8 Francois-Arthur Vibert from France.

Three of the four wild cards to the main draw have been given to Qatari players Jabor Ali Mutawa, Mousa Shanan Zayed and Abdullah al Mohamoud. The fourth one has been landed by UAE’s Oman Awadhy, ranked 1552nd in the world.

This is the final of three consecutive International Tennis Federation events that have been held in Doha over as many weeks. Hosting these events allows the Qatar Tennis Federation to showcase its place on the world tennis stage and bring international players to the region while providing an opportunity for members of the national team to play against a global field of athletes.

Tournament Director Saad al Mohannadi said of this event, “The fourth Qatar ITF Futures event is the culmination of three weeks of tournaments that have highlighted our Qatari players as well as players from around the world.” In the qualifying finals, six of the eight seeded players won their matches and entered the main round.

Pakistan’s Shahbaz Khan caused the biggest flutter when he knocked out No 1 American Austin Karosi after the latter, trailing 7-5 3-6 0-5, defaulted.

Delf Gohlke of Germany was another impressive winner against Punn Bodhidatta, a Thai player who had shocked second seed Hasier Pastor in the first match.

Others to make it to the main round were: No 3 Matteo Donati (Italy), No 4 Richard Ruckelshausen (Austria), Mehdo Bouras (Algeria), Alexander Zhurbin (Russia), No 7 Andrea Basso (Italy) and No 8 Alexander Zverev (Germany).

Qatar-Uzbekistan in a must-win clash


DOHA QATAR will entertain winless Uzbekistan in a decisive 2014 World Cup qualifying group match at the Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday.

Group leaders South Korea travel to Tehran to face Iran in a grueling fixture that will determine how the group will look like after five rounds of matches in Asian qualifiers.

Any slip-up by Iran will benefit Qatar, who can move into the group’s top two with a home win over Uzbekistan. However, Paulo Autuori’s hosts must push aside its dismal form, which saw it draw 1-1 against first Oman, and then Jordan, during two friendlies recently.

Adding to its concerns are, defender Ibrahim Majed who will miss the game due to suspension, and forward Yusef Ahmed who remain doubtful with injury.

Knowing that a win is important to their diminishing hopes, the visitors have arrived in Doha hoping to emulate its 2-0 win in the 2011 Asian Cup tournament. However, the Central Asians twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against the United Arab Emirates in a recent friendly, adding to coach Mirdjalal Kasimov’s concerns.

Speaking at a pre-match conference, Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov said, “We have been training for this match for a long time, it is a crucial match for us. The players knows how important it is to win this match, and they will be aiming at finishing second place in the group at least.” Kasimov said the Qatari team is a talented side with lots of good players, but his in Qatar to win and we will fight for it.

The match, which will kickoff at 3.15pm did not go well with the Uzbek coach.

He thinks the timing of the match is hard because of hot weather, but was still confident his players would snatch its first win in the group.

Speaking on tactics, Kasimov said, “The team had a problem converting chances to goals, we have worked on that and hopefully we will be potent in front of goal today.” Head coach of Qatar Paulo Autouri said, “We are aiming at winning today’s match. I am satisfied with our preparations, from the training camp and friendly matches.” “Tuesday’’s match will be against a strong team, knowing Uzbekistan had a good performance in their last match against the UAE,” Autouri said.

“Football is difficult to predict, but South Korea and Iran are expected to qualify from the group, tuesday’s match is decisive in changing the face of the group,” he added.

Qatar will have one eye in the match in Tehran hoping South Korea does it favour in picking any kind of points apart from defeat.

Autouri said, “We are going to concentrate on all our matches, regardless of who is going to qualify.

In addition, the Uzbekistan game is our target” Autouri is confident of his players’ chances and the match time change does not change his match strategy. “We are planning to play under any circumstance and we would be ready for today’s game,” he concluded.

Arabi beats Zamalek, closes in on semis


DOHA THE morning has never been more golden and bright for Asian champion Al Arabi Club. The Qatari club infused life into its challenge in the prestigious FIVB World Clubs Men’s Volleyball Championship with a crucial victory against Al Zamalek at the Women’s Sports Hall, Aspire, on Monday.

Back on the court after playing the afternoon match against Zenit Kazan on Sunday, German veteran Christian Pampel pummelled spikes at the vital moments to spearhead Al Arabi a lop-sided 25- 19 25-26 25-20 victory in 68 minutes in the morning. This is the third victory for Al Arabi in the event in four appearance and it has maintained its domination of the African champion from Egypt. In 2010 and 2011, Al Arabi, playing as the host, had beaten Al Ahly by 3-1 and 3-2, respectively.

Nevertheless, in a late match, twice-silver medallist PGE Skra Belchatow from Poland stunned European champion Zenit Kazan in five sets to acquire the pole position in the group B. After both shared the first four sets, Belchatow turned the heat on the Russian team which had a melt-down and lost the match 25-21 23-25 25-17 10-15 in 121 minutes.

This was the second win for the Poland’s team in two matches.

In the tie-break set, Zenit Kazan made crucial service and unforced errors, which enabled the Polish team to suddenly break away from 8-8 to 12-9. Then it was left to Belchatow, the runner-up in 2009 and 2010 to Trentino Diatec, to turn on the screws, which it did efficiently and won the thriller. In the 2009 semi-finals also, Belchatow had beaten the Russian team.

The fate of the Belchatow, Zenit and Arabi would however be decided on the last day of the pool matches on Wednesday when the calculators are likely to be required badly.

The odds appear to be stacked against Arabi, which has to face onfire Belchatow in the must-win match situation. Zenit is to clash with Al Zamalek and it is likely to beat the African champion.

Coming back to the Arabi match, it was the first and third sets in which Pampel drilled most of his lethal smashes to unsettle the Egyptian side, which threatened to go neck and neck. Pampel garnered 17 points, all from his brilliant spiking.

Both the teams were in hot pursuit of each other until 11-10 in the third set. However, Pampel’s smashing ability lifted Al Arabi to 16-13 when he secured the 15th point for his team. Later, he also set up the match point and then Oivanen pulled off a superb block to seal the win.

Finland’s Matti Oivanen turned in a good all-round game for Arabi and earned 13 points – five from smashes, three from blocks and three serves. Mohamed Ibrahim chipped in with nine points, including six from eight spikes.

Reda Haikel was the lone warrior for Zamalek, getting 15 points.

Mohamed Badawy was the second best with eight.

Al Arabi captain Saeed al Jumani was both delighted and relieved by his team’s comeback. “I’m very happy for the victory and it will inspire us to raise our level in the next match. We have to face a very tough team in the form of Belchatow but our coach knows how to deal with each match. I hope we are able to reach the semi-finals for our fans.” Mauro Grasso, the Brazilian coach of Al Arabi, said the team was gelling better as it is getting more time to play together.

“For us, it was a great result.

There is a big difference between the mistakes that we made today and in the previous match.

“We can try our chances to pull off the wins in the next matches.

We’ll try to play as tactical game as we did against Zamalek.

The players are also playing better and we hope to go all out and beat the Polish team in the last match,” added Grasso.

Zenit vs Belchatow In 2009, Belchatow had beaten Zenit in the semi-finals on the way to finish runner-up to Trentino Diatec. But this year, Zenit, returning to the competition as the might European champion and having some players who clinched the gold medal for Russia in the Olympic Games in London in August.

Sollys Nestle takes revenge Sollys Nestle showcased its ambition and preparation to win the women’s crown by handing a fourset defeat to defending champion Rabita Baku of Azerbaijan. The 22- 25 25-20 25-19 25-20 victory was the second successive one for the Brazil team, following its one-sided triumph against Bohai Bank of China, and placed it at the top of the group C
The 111-minute victory also avenged Sollys’ group phase loss to the same rival last year. The Azerbaijan then went on to become the champion, while Sollys grabbed the third place.

Winning start by Fenerbahce Fenerbahce SK Istanbul launched the campaign in the women’s section with a romp against Lancheras de Catano. The 2010 champion took only 69 minutes to beat the Puerto Rico’s team by 25- 17 25-17 25-13. Lancheras can finish second behind Fenerbahce in the group D as the Turkish team is likely to beat Kenya Prisons in its last pool match on Wednesday.

Fenerbahce was sell served by three players in the match – captain Seda Tokatlioglu (16 points), Marianne Steinbrecher (13) and Eda Erdem (10). Tokatlioglu’s 13 smashes boosted Fenerbahce to 37- 29. It also outblocked (11-6) and completely outserved the rival 7-0.