‘I don’t want to do something just for the heck of it’: Deepika Padukone
You started shooting for Chhapaak soon after your marriage, just over a year ago. How has the last year been for you?
This has been a year of nurturing. During one’s creative journey, nurturing is extremely important because as much as you keep giving to every film and every character, it’s equally important to keep replenishing yourself. It was important for me to nourish my creative side. Otherwise, we get into this rut of constantly having to churn out films.
Grey is the Colour of Ash
November 1984 will remain one of the darkest chapters in the history of free India. More than 3,000 innocent Sikhs were murdered on the streets of Delhi and several hundred more across India. Rampaging mobs, often instigated by political ringleaders, pulled Sikh men by their long hair out of their homes, garlanded them with burning tyres, chopped off ears and noses and clapped in glee. Homes, taxi stands, shops went up in smoke spirals that rose high into the winter sky to the accompaniment of ghoulish howls. The state machinery stood silently by: two Sikh guards had assassinated then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for desecrating the hallowed Golden Temple by sending in army tanks; the carnage in Delhi was seen as a vicious act of revenge, the anger was to be allowed to spend itself.
Passion and Purity
A shy college girl from Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh has something to brag to her friends. On a visit to Mumbai, she found an actor from a famous television series on Tinder and swiped right. “He called me home. I went and he tried to get intimate. After a while, I felt what we were doing was not correct and told him to stop,” she says.
A 19-year-old boy has a different problem. His girlfriend in college gave him two boxes on Valentine’s Day, one of chocolates, the other of condoms. “When are you going to use them?” she asks, in front of the entire class, to his horror and embarrassment.
An actor is a human being, not a machine: Shane Nigam
Shane Nigam is only 24, but the actor has stacked up an enviable repertoire in the Malayalam film industry. His performances have shone even in films with a rich ensemble cast like Annayum Rasoolum (2013), Parava (2017) and Kumbalangi Nights (2019). The son of late impressionist Kalabhavan Abi, Nigam’s rise is remarkable as he’s had no godfathers to guide him. But the charming, lanky actor’s career stands threatened after a collective of film producers in Kerala in November last year decided to ban him from the industry, citing his “non-cooperation” in two ongoing projects. They were miffed when the actor cut his hair, changing his appearance dramatically during the course of a shoot. Insiders say the actor is prone to impulsive behaviour, is frequently late to film sets and abruptly revises his fees. Nigam says chopping off his hair was a “mark of protest” against his treatment by the film crew. Though he has agreed to talks with the producers’ association to end the stalemate, no solution is in sight. Last month, when The Indian Express caught up with the actor on the sidelines of his latest release Valiyaperunnal, he chose not to comment on the controversy. But in the interview, he talked about his passion for films, his struggle with depression and the changes he wishes to see in the Malayalam film industry.
An encounter with the people of the floating villages on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake
Floating in a big blue, plastic bucket, with a long stick propelling her towards us, came a little girl asking for ‘dollars’. We were on a half-day cruise on Tonle Sap lake near Siem Reap, Cambodia, and were about to stop by at a floating crocodile farm for some refreshments, souvenirs and selfies. The girl had comfortably wrapped a snake around her body, which she seemed to have plucked out of the water.
According to our guide, the girl was from one of the floating villages on the lake, mostly inhabited by groups of people who were “neither Cambodian nor foreigners”. With more than 170 floating villages on Tonle Sap, most of the 80,000 people living here are considered non-immigrant foreigners, he explained.
Beyond the stripes
The winter rain poured as I sat huddled under the outstretched hood of my gypsy. It did its job of keeping me dry, but nothing could’ve kept my spirits from dampening. Back then, about five years ago, my maniacal zeal to spot a tiger in the wild ran irrationally strong. The untimely winter rains had conspired to keep the tigers of Corbett National Park at bay, and, given that a year had passed since my last tiger sighting, my latest “failed” foray into feline territory had left me miffed.
The music never stops
A nippy breeze blew across the mighty Mississippi, lightly slapping the ends of the jacket and whipping the tassels of the stole wrapped around the neck. The tall grass that grew abundantly along the bank swayed as it caught the breeze. A wide path ran parallel to the river, deserted in the early morning hour save for an occasional jogger or cyclist. A still but tranquil silence hung in the air; even large boats glided past noiselessly.
On the Long Road to Justice
On December 19, 1925, the British Viceroy to India, Lord Reading, received a delegation unlike any he had met before. They were South African Indians who had come to him seeking justice. The man who led their delegation was even more remarkable. Dr Abdullah Abdurahman was the first person of colour to be elected to any South African office. In 1904, he had won a seat on the Cape Town city council, a position he held for 36 years. He was also Provincial Councillor for the Cape, for in the Cape there was no racial bar to elections. Any man of property or money could stand — just as they could in Britain.
The Spice Route
Zhang Guilin’s second job was with a “Beifang ren” — or a northerner — a North Indian diplomat who tossed a friendly challenge her way to make round chapatis. Months after trying, he told her, “Ni de chapati jinbu le (Your chapatis have improved),” she recollects, laughing. To which, she replied in jest: “Woshuo ni de xuexi ye jinbu le (I told him his Chinese had also improved!)” Zhang, 51, works the Indian diplomat circuit at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, cooking and cleaning for young diplomats, who immerse themselves in Chinese language studies for 18 months. On a cold December morning, 20 years after she first came out to China’s capital city from Hefei in Anhui province to find work, she was effortlessly flipping aloo paranthas for Saturday brunch.
Forwarded as Received: Identity Crisis
Bachchon…. u all r thinking hey… all week we r having party… why old dadu is bothering us in NEW YEAR!!! WILL HE GIVE US MORE LECTURE NOW ALSO>?!@@@!!!
No my family… i am not going to be senti buddha… i will not even say that my own son had new year party and didnt invite… clearly nithalla angad has forgotten how i gave him whiskey-soda after he got job…. Ur daadi and I had own party… i even allowed her ladies drink shandy…. But my family… I CUD NOT ENJOY… my mann has been vichlit since december of last decade only… it is having khujli about some one else’s mann ki baat…
Reading the Signs
In a poster held up in the recent protests in Mumbai against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a young girl is leading Dr BR Ambedkar by the hand. She holds a placard that reads, “No CAA, no NRC.” In popular iconography, Ambedkar holds the Indian Constitution, which he drafted, in one hand; the other hand is raised, his index finger pointing to the path that the nation needs to take. In this poster, however, Ambedkar needs help from his little friend. Artist Shrujana Niranjana Shridhar, 27, who designed the poster, says she chose a child to lead Ambedkar because young women have emerged as the faces of the ongoing protests against the CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
How to stay sane and shut out toxicity in a time of polarisation
The current state of politics in the country is probably the most polarised and disruptive it has ever been in this century. As the protests pockmark the landscape of the country, with the young on the forefront, offering the last line of defence against a government overtaking constitutional provisions and rights, the digital fallout is quite intense. It is inevitable that we find ourselves engaged, angry, exhausted at the deaf ears that our arguments and conversations fall on. No matter which side we fall on, there is no denying that we are frustrated — either about the liberal politics that questions the naturalisation of a Hindu nation, or about the unapologetic fundamentalism that sees human life and dignity as disposable in the quest of militant nationalism.
It’s Sweeter in the Cold
“Come on, let’s get to work,” my father would implore, unloading a bag full of carrots. After my grandmother passed on, my parents were very keen that the matriarch’s strictures on who was allowed into the kitchen be set aside at the earliest. The change of rules seemed fine to me and my sister. The kitchen was a place for new adventures — the masalas, oils, and kitchen our new playmates. Except during the biting cold winter days, when all we wanted to do was slurp warm soup in the comfort of our razais. My parents, however, made sure that there was no let-up in the new regime.
Bringing the World Home
One complaint parents and teachers have about children these days is that they’re simply not interested in nature. Many try inveigling their kids into getting interested by making them watch natural history documentaries that have been made. Sadly, though, many of these natural history programmes are now turning to only depicting violence in the animal kingdom. Good or bad, the problem is that these films often simply serve to bring the outdoors indoors. The child sees the show and moves on.To my mind, the only way to get kids to be permanently interested in the natural world is to expose them to it —at a personal, hands-on level. During the rains, for example, every child should be encouraged to collect frog spawn, watch the eggs hatch into tadpoles and then the tadpoles gradually “eating” their tails to become frogs (No self-respecting child ought to be able to resist frogs). Once the froglets are jumping around, you let them go back into the pond you collected them from. No child should be allowed to graduate from school without having seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis, after having lived its life as a caterpillar with a gross appetite.