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  • 02/13/18--23:24: The majestic Kudremukh
  • As soon as my family I get a long weekend, we take a break from our daily routines. Weve been to Chikkamagaluru but Kudremukh is one of the best places we have visited in Karnataka.

    We started from home at exactly 6 am. We took a break at Kicchana Halli Mane for breakfast. Its one of the neatest and cleanest South Indian vegetarian restaurant. The ambience, the staff and the food were excellent.

    We didnt stop anywhere after breakfast. We took a route guided by the ByneKaadu management. Its a fun ride with well-maintained roads. We reached there at 12.30 pm. I dont have words to describe how amazing the place is.

    At around 4.30 pm, after our tea and coffee break, the resort provided us with a jeep to go to Gaali Gudda, one of the best peaks of Kudremukh.

    It offers a great scenic view of the Western Ghats. Its almost 20 km from ByneKaadu, with muddy and bumpy roads. My son really enjoyed the ride. Our guide Ganesh took us safely. After reaching there, we took some photographs. We missed the sunset though as it was a cloudy day. Despite this, the trip was so amazing that we didnt want to come back.

    We returned around 6.45 pm as our snack with campfire was ready. It was quite chilly during nights and early mornings. We had a great time at the campfire as we played some music and a couple of rounds of musical chair.

    Our dinner was ready at 8.30 pm. We were provided with a tent for two of us (extra payment) for two nights. Sleeping in the tent was a different experience.

    The next morning, we went to Adhishakthyathmaka Sri Annapoorneshwari Temple, a stop which was not included in the tour package. It was just 10 km from our stay. It is one of the biggest temples of goddess Annapoorneshwari.

    Once we had our breakfast, Ganesh was ready to take us to Abbu Gudige, which is about half an hour from our stay. Its a waterfall located in the private area. Its opened only for ByneKaadu visitors. The water falls from more than 50 feet.

    We stood in the middle and it felt like a rock was falling on our head. It was an amazing experience as my son loves playing in the water. The water was so clear that we could see our own reflections. In the evening, we visited Samse Tea Estates which is on the main road. We stopped our vehicle, watched the beautiful sunset and clicked loads of pictures.

    From there we took our ride further to Jamble. To enter Jamble, one has to take the permission from the forest department.

    You are so close to nature that you dont even want to lose even a single second of it. You can see a man-made bridge (Toogu Sethuve) which we have to cross to go to the other part of the forest area.

    It was pitch dark when we were returning. We ended the night with a campfire and recollected the memories we made over the weekend.

    After breakfast the next morning, we started our trip back to Bengaluru with loads of memories.

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    World of Women (WOW) screened the Bollywood film Pad Man on Tuesday at PVR Vega City, Bannerghatta Road, to raise funds and spread the message of menstrual health.

    Guests, donors and well-wishers were present at the screening of the film.
    The WOW team are looking at getting donations from individuals and corporates. They will use these funds to educate girls and distribute menstrual kits amongst various beneficiaries, identified by them and by the donor.

    The kits will include one years supply of quality sanitary napkins, soaps and panties which will get one started on the path of hygiene.

    The recipients will be factory workers in urban areas, school girls in rural areas, government school girls, orphanages and domestic help. The cost of one kit is Rs 500.

    Actor Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, who was present at the fundraiser, said, "Firstly, as an actor, Im proud that Akshay Kumar has gone beyond being a regular mainstream hero who does masala films and redefined what an alpha male is today. He has broken all stereotypes and raised the bar for actors."

    "Secondly, WOW is also working towards menstrual hygiene and its a topic that needs a lot of work to be done. Im glad that I am a part of that," she adds.

    A guest at the event Saritha Kaveriappa said, "This is great because hygiene is something that everyone should be aware of. Im happy that WOW is reaching out to everyone."

    The six-women team at WOW is on a mission to educate young girls that the colour red stands for enjoyment of life. They feel that its important that women feel good about being themselves and their womanhood. They want to erase the taboo behind menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and celebrate their womanhood.

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    This picture of the operative staff in the trunk exchange of Bangalore Telephones was taken in 1972 when I was the officer-in-charge.

    They were employed to put through trunk calls manually as the technology for long-distance communication available back then was quite primitive, compared to today.

    It is worth mentioning here that they used to take the blame from subscribers for common problems, mainly the unreliable transmission media and the shortage of circuits to put through calls.

    In spite of these shortcomings, they would handle around 6,000 outgoing trunk calls providing 80 percent efficiency, apart from thousands of incoming and transit calls. In fact, working was a way of life for these dedicated girls.

    Apart from being operators, some of them were very good artistes and were part of cultural programs in Bangalore and Delhi.

    K P Chandra was a very good Manipuri dancer. After marriage, she left for Chennai. S K Vijayalakshmi was outstanding in public relations, because of which she was deputed to Rajbhavan. Sri Mohanlal Sukhadiya, the then governor, took her to Jaipur to spend the holidays with his family members.

    Pankaja left for Mysore after marriage. Gowramma, an excellent bharathanatyam dancer, retired from Bangalore Telephones as senior supervisor, and has settled down in Sahakaranagar. Sri Gopi was from Electronics and Radar Development Establishment and was a part of this team as a dance director.

    Padmakshi joined Bombay Telephones and is happily settled with her family. Krishnaveni is a
    very soft spoken operator with very good skill in operation.

    Vijaya found a suitable career to her liking. Rajalakshmi is also a good bharathanatyam dancer and is settled in Bangalore with her family.

    Lalitha Jayaraman and Vanitha were seen as the Latha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle of this group. They are very good singers and they used to sing for all the programmes of these girls.

    In their spare time, these operators practised under the guidance of Sri Gopi, the dance master, and gave many outstanding dance performances under the banner of Bangalore Telephones.

    The first programme they gave was called 'March of Communication', presenting the growth of communication from prehistoric days i.e. from Kalidasa's Meghasandesha to those days.

    Amongst the programmes, the one that still stands out in my memory is the one by Mohini Bhasmasura.

    These artistes made a name for themselves in the folk dance category and won numerous awards at the all-India level.

    Today they are all over 60 years old and are enjoying a peaceful retired life with their family, after 35 to 40 years of memorable service. They often meet one another in family functions and happily recall their hard but eventful days at Bangalore Telephones.

    (The author can be contacted at mgnmoorthy1935@gmail.com)

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  • 02/13/18--23:30: On my pinboard
  • Actor Rakshit Shetty made his debut into Sandalwood with Nam Areal Ondina. The film Simple Agi Ondh Love Story got the actor noticed.

    He essayed the role of Richard Richie Anthony in Ulidavaru Kandanthe, for which he was also the screenwriter and director. Rakshit won the Karnataka State Film Award for Directors First Time Best Film for the movie. In 2016, the actor-director was seen in Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, which garnered positive reactions.

    Rakshit has also written, produced and acted in runaway hit Kirik Party. His production house Paramvah Studios co-produced Humble Politician Nograj and will soon be producing Bheema Sena Nala Maharaja.

    The actor will next be seen in Avane Srimannarayana.


    Actor

    Al Pacino

    "I have my favourites across film industries. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio are my favourites in Hollywood. I particularly love Al Pacino because of the way he treats each role distinctly and his attitude. I have watched The Godfather, Scarface, Insomnia and Scent of a Woman many times, just to see him on screen. In Bollywood, I admire Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan. In Sandalwood, it can be no one else than Dr Rajkumar and Anant Nag.

    Music

    A R Rahman

    "Music is very important for me. I feel like I can easily work on a script or concentrate on filmmaking when I am listening to music. A beautiful track can inspire me and give me ideas. My all-time favourite musician will always be A R Rahman for the way he treats each song. Though he has a signature style which speaks of grandeur, each of his songs stand out by themselves. I love the music in films like Roja, Taal, Swades, Lagaan and Yuva. His music always has orchestra music which gives it a unique touch."

    Food

    Neer Dosa

    "Since I am from Mangalore, I have an inclination to Mangalurean cuisine. I enjoy Neer Dose, Kori Roti and the sweet Manni from back home. I particularly love the Neer Dosa as one can have as many of them and still not be full. It can be had with fish curry or chicken curry or even chutney. I am a fan of the Coorgi Pandi Curry. I also enjoy Khara Avalakki that my mother prepares. I also love Italian food "

    Travel

    Aalsmeer, Holland

    "I am not a avid traveller but one of the places that I have been to a few times and would love to go to again is The Netherlands. I particularly love visiting Aalsmeer there. It is a countryside. Something magical about The Netherlands is that it has beautiful spots which are a perfect combination of landscape and huge villas beside canals. One can skate in these canals during winters and do boating in them during summers."

    Inspiration

    Shankar Nag

    "Actor Shankar Nag has always been my biggest inspiration. He worked for a short while but the kind of work he put out there for everyone to see was mindblowing. He acted, directed and even worked in the theatre. Though I never got to known him close, everyone who met him always spoke about his dedication. One of his best works till date is Malgudi Days. I hope to be a multifaceted artiste like him some day."

    Philosophy

    Follow your intuition

    "I always stuck to the philosophy of following ones intuition. I strongly believe that your soul knows your journey already. if you follow your intuition, you can never go wrong. In my life, my intuition has always lead me to beautiful things. In the past, I was proud of my decision to work in Tughlaq despite the movie not doing well. It is because of this movie that I went on to work in Simple Agi Ondh Love Story, which was a big point of my career."

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    Facebook and WhatsApp are aggravating relationship problems in a big way, say counsellors

    Parihar Vanitha Sahayani, the family helpline run by the police, and the Family Counselling Centre get about 60 calls a day from women in distress. The helpine and the centre function from the Police Commissioners Office on Infantry Road (Bhagvan Mahaveera Road). Calls related to marital disharmony, domestic violence, pre-marital and extra-marital affairs and live-in relationships top the list. And fuelled by social media, the numbers have been growing.

    Some of the trouble is caused by excessive engagement with social media. The complaints had come down in 2017, but are rising alarmingly this year, counsellors say.

    Officials manning the helpline say most cases involve men and women between 21 and 35 years.

    "Marital discord arises when one of the spouses spends a lot of time on the phones and social media. Many cases of extra-marital affairs and violence in live-in relationships have their root in social media these days," says Rani Shetty of Parihar Vanitha Sahayani. Cases from affluent families outnumber those from middle class ones: incompatibility, salary disparity, and superiority complex are frequent problems.

    Women and young girls who get into relationships online are particularly vulnerable, says Saraswathi B S, senior counsellor at Vanitha Sahayani. When things go wrong, the man threatens to circulate private pictures on social media. Some of the women develop suicidal tendencies, fearing social stigma, she says.

    Facebook is Cupid

    The couple meet on Facebook and exchange pictures. Things change when they meet in person. They continue in the relationship but the love is short-lived and the man starts distancing himself. He refuses to marry her and later threatens to upload pictures and videos of their intimate moments.

    Unmarried and pregnant

    The couple starts living together. They are, for all practical purposes, man and wife, but with no legally registered marriage. The woman gets pregnant and the man refuses to marry her. He forces her into abortion. He insists on sex the same night, after threatening to put out her nude pictures.

    Single on FB, married otherwise

    A woman puts up her status on Facebook as a widow and starts a relationship with a man who puts up his status as a divorcee. They start chatting on Facebook and graduate to living in and have a baby. The man or the woman are actually in a marriage and have children. This leads to complications and abuse.

    Forbidden connections

    Man in an affluent household engages in a relationship with a maid or acquaintance afterhis wife leaves for work. This goes on for months, till the wife gets suspicious. She checkshis phone and digs out CCTV footage. The relationship is confirmed. The wife, also froman affluent family, initially complains but later wants the case closed. She says the childrensinterest is priority.

    In-laws want money

    The in-laws dont allow the wife to sleep with the husband or interact with him till the dowryis settled. The woman is beaten up and locked in a room.

    Be careful on social media

    Dont base your judgments on pictures. Dont believe everything you read in online statuses. Define clear-cut boundaries in live-in relationships. Talk to friends and family when in distress. Dont allow shooting of intimate photos and videos.

    Numbers of callers
    2015: 1,220
    2016: 1,192
    2017: 1,252

    Hit back

    In one instance, an abused wife chased her husband around the house and battered him with a rolling pin. He ran up to the terrace and hid there.

    Need help?

    Call Vanitha Sahayani (helpline for women ) on 080 22943225 or police control room on 100.

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    Quikr Homes recently conducted a comprehensive survey to capture the perceptions and expectations of builders on the real estate regulatory authority act (RERA) and goods and services tax (GST) in order to judge its impact on the real estate market. The survey received responses by as many as 300 participants from the top seven metro cities in India. It highlights the key factors that will shape the Indian realty sector in 2018. Here are the major findings:


    RERA as a positive reform

    To begin with, a majority of the builders are positive about RERA as a reform. 82% of the builders believe that RERA will bring in the much-needed transparency in property-dealing in the days to come. It will also increase the housing demand and buyers trust. 52% of builders believe that RERA will be the prime force in bringing back the buyers sentiment and confidence, whereas 41% respondents feel that affordable housing is the way to go.

    While the Indian realty sector has been witnessing a slowdown over a last couple of years, a slew of initiatives such as Housing for All by 2022, the Smart Cities Mission, Benami Transactions Act, etc, has attracted a number of foreign investors to the market. According to the survey, 42% of builders believe that RERA is expected to bring in a significant increase in foreign direct investments in the real estate industry because of transparency and organisational setup.

    On the other hand, real estate hotspots like Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru have seen a huge influx of money in the recent years. Cities with educational and commercial hubs have attracted more investments from buyers and turning into hotspots of the decade. 64% of the respondents believe that Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad will be the top three cities where real estate sales would grow fast.

    And, real estate prices have started to pick up after all the regulatory reforms. Considering the current market situation, an annual return rate in the range of 10-15% is considered relatively healthy. It is interesting to note that respondents in Pune and Hyderabad markets continue to remain optimistic about the high returns on investment.


    Brighter prospects for 2018

    The survey shows that 72% of builders from Bengaluru are planning to launch new projects in the next six months. Similarly, Pune and Hyderabad have shown positive growth with 70% builders intending to come up with a new project in the upcoming six months with proper guidelines and complete registration, as they are expecting a revival in buyers sentiment as compared to previous quarter where only 53% builders launched a new project post-demonetisation.

    There will be a focus on affordable housing. The survey indicates that 45% of the respondents are planning to launch affordable housing projects in near future and 34% prefer to launch housing projects in the mid-segment. Post the announcement of infrastructure status to affordable housing, builders expect it to be a favourable project in the real estate market with almost 50% of the builders committing to launch affordable housing projects in the near future.

    Furthermore, the future of real estate is digital as more people search for their property-related needs online. As per the survey, 29% builders believe that the online property portals are the best medium to market their projects for the more serious buyers as they source their information from the RERA website and only go for authentic RERA registered projects.

    Brokers and internal sales team aid the builders in selling properties. 40% of builders believe that their internal sales team will be the best medium to market their projects as it will cater to the more serious buyers and be loyal.

    On the other hand, 37% of builders believe that it is important to have a healthy mix between brokers and internal sales team to sell their projects to capture the entire market, while a healthy hike as compared to previous years can be seen with 23% developers wanting to sell their projects on online property portals as these will prove to be a cost-effective way to reach out to end-users. This will also help buyers make an informed and optimum choice in making their purchase decision as post-RERA, they cannot be fooled through falsified information and they prefer to check for themselves before making any investments.

    The Indian real estate industry will be reaping the benefits of a reform-driven environment that is improving investor confidence while preparing the grounds for a more organised and transparent sector. Investment flows will continue to be healthy as the reforms process in the real estate sector continues and past success stories of healthy returns encourage stakeholders for a bright future outlook.

    (The author is head, Quikr Homes)

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    There is a growing water crisis across the world, evident through the droughts in summers. As rivers are drying up, there are millions of people who have no access to fresh water in the country as well. And, with the summer approaching, water shortage will be a key concern in Bengaluru.

    In an urban setup, an average Indian household, with a family of four, consumes about 1,000 litres of water every day. The World Health Organization (WHO)-prescribed water consumption is 150 litres per person per day, which translates to 600 litres per day. Therefore, most families waste roughly 35-40% of water because of accidental leaks and negligence. This water can be saved if the consumers are conscious about their usage and pay for what they consume.

    But, this doesnt happen and most apartment complexes charge a fixed flat water fee to their residents. Even if the water consumption is different for each household, the bill is calculated by dividing the number of households by the total cost of water incurred by the apartment every month. The individual consumption is never equal which results in most residents paying for others consumption as well.


    Savings galore

    A smart water meter can solve the issue of inequitable usage of water and billing. Smart meters are capable of reading individual consumption and provide readings to the consumer in real time. They also prevent wastage by detecting leaks and shutting off the water supply. The detailed consumption information helps the consumers alter their behaviour to bring in savings.

    Research shows that apartment communities which have implemented individual metering have reduced their overall water consumption by 35%. Besides, they also save on energy costs because lesser water than before is pumped to overhead distribution tanks. Less consumption also means less wastage of water, resulting in multi-pronged savings.

    If apartment complexes adopt smart water metering solutions, it can result in tremendous savings and multiple benefits like:

    Fair billing: A large chunk of the population in cities resides in high-rise buildings that charge a flat fee per month for water consumption. It is not only unfair but leads to discomfort amongst the conscious residents as they feel unrewarded for their effort in reducing water wastage. Smart water metering enables housing societies to measure and charge individuals on actual consumption.

    Automatic leakage detection: A leaky toilet can waste a significant amount of water every day. A dripping faucet or a leaky toilet flush remains unnoticed for a long time. Smart meters provide real-time leakage detection systems that can quickly alert the consumer and corrective action can be taken.

    All-round cost reduction: A housing society with smart water meters not only brings in fair billing but it also reduces up to 35% costs in the overall water spent. With benefits like reduction in water consumption, reduced energy bill due to minimal need to pump water to overhead tanks, lesser sewage charge and better optimisation of their sewage treatment plant (STP), smart water meters provide an effective way to manage water in housing societies.

    Without immediate steps and implementation of smart technology initiatives, there will be adverse implications for apartment-dwellers in urban cities. And, with a growing population in cities and water shortage, it is imperative that we take the essential measures to conserve and ensure sustainability in our city.

    (The author is CEO, co-founder, SmarterHomes Technologies)

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  • 02/14/18--20:54: The quirky bench
  • A decade ago, benches were an integral part of our homes and schools. Gradually, they receded into the background. However, they are making a comeback now. They are quite the simple interior element that can be brought into just about any room in your home. It can change the look of a space, giving it a whole new feel. "Benches are a useful, space-saving form of seating," says Susan George, owner, Xanadu Home Boutique.

    "A popular way they are being used is in lieu of chairs at a dining table. Also, as designs for benches become more colourful, varied and exciting, besides serving the original function of seating, they are being used in other innovative ways as furniture for the home - they make interesting coffee tables, shelving units and bookcases, and even console tables in the right spot."

    Besides saving space, another reason benches are making a comeback is because of their offbeat and trendy appeal. Gita Ramanan, chief design officer, Design Cafe, says, "World over, benches have become extremely popular in hospitality projects. Whether as part of booths, bars or community tables, benches are the new team-building, group-seating option. From hospitality, the benches quickly found favour in offices, as part of the new wave of quirky and trendy commercial furniture, used primarily in discussion areas, breakout zones and cafeterias. And from there, these benches, in different sizes, materials and finishes have finally found their way to our homes."

    Elaborating on the material, Gita says that benches are available in different options of wood, from natural wood, mango wood, sheesham, pine and rubber wood to the old favourites of teak, rosewood and mahogany.

    How to get it right

    If youre already nostalgic and excited about getting benches for your home, then Sandesh Dhanraj, founder and CEO, Noah Interiors has some suggestions. "Placing a bench at the entrance makes your home appear warm and welcoming. It not only becomes a comfortable space to sit but a bench with shelving units above will give the foyer a chic look. In the living room, benches can be used as a centre table. Placing a bench with tall artefacts around it serves as a partition in a room. You can even place it behind a sofa to fill up the awkward space."

    He adds, "In the dining area, chairs can be substituted with benches. These benches can be upholstered to make them more comfortable. They accommodate more than the conventional number of people in chairs and are great for casual dinners. For the bedroom, consider placing an upholstered bench at the end of the bed and make a statement. It serves as a perfect place to read a book or put in your footwear. Consider using metal legs instead of wood to make it eye-catching."

    Bear in mind

    The theme of your home must match the selection of benches. Susan elaborates, "The use of benches needs to be be decided, i.e., are they being used in the traditional sense as seating or as accent pieces?"

    Gita points out that benches are easy to fit into an interior scheme."They occupy lesser space than chairs and can be pushed against a wall. They also tend to offer a nice sense of harmony and balance. A drawback though, especially if it cannot be used as a booth against a wall, is that it usually has no back-rest and therefore some people tend to view it as mildly uncomfortable."

    Furthermore, Sandesh adds that the size and material are common aspects to be considered. "Finishes should stay in the same family as other pieces of wooden furniture in the room. Solid wooden benches are ideal for the foyer. The colour, fabric and pattern of the upholstery also play a vital role," he states.

    A few tips for maintenance

    The upkeep of benches depends on their material and where they are placed. "Treated and painted wood benches can be used indoors and outdoors. However, leather benches cannot be exposed directly to the external elements. Leather will also have better longevity if maintained through regular conditioning," advises Susan.

    "For natural wooden benches, keep them clean and away from stagnant water. Cleaning with a dry cloth with an occasional wipe down with a damp cloth will suffice. For upholstered seats, regular vacuuming would be ideal. For metallic seats, one needs to be careful of scratches, otherwise keeping them buffed and clean is a simple task. For fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) and acrylic benches, which are indestructible, keeping them away from extremely heavy weights and hot flames is essential," says Gita.

    So, go on and get a bench today!

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  • 02/14/18--21:08: Mighty & tall it stands
  • Fabrication of the facade of the new 365.5-metre Kucuk Camlica television tower in Istanbul, Turkey, is now underway. The facade of this £36 million structure was designed by UK-based Newtecnic, whose innovative concept allows inhabitable spaces to be attached to the whole of the towers core. "Because of the complexity and cost of building, towers of this height normally have accommodation only at the top," said Newtecnic CEO, Andrew Watts.

    The company devised a design that allows lightweight, prefabricated glass reinforced
    concrete panels to be attached all the way up the central column. These hang like a curtain and are securely clipped to the main central core to create large interior spaces.
    The tower will host 125 broadcasting transmitters and is expected to attract 4.5 million visitors annually. The design incorporates restaurants, exhibition and meeting spaces, two high-level observation decks and a panoramic elevator. The tower, when complete, will reach 580 metres above sea level. Newtecnic engineered the facade to last for more than double its lifespan, reaching 60 years.


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    They say life is better when you are laughing. Not in the Parliament though. Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury cackled loudly during Prime Minister Narendra Modis Rajya Sabha speech last week, when he said that the Aadhar was conceptualised in 1998 by then home minister LK Advani. In a blistering riposte, the PM asked a vexed speaker of the House, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, to not admonish Renuka as he was getting a chance to hear such laughter for the first time, after the Ramayan serial.

    As far as bad behaviour in the Parliament goes, this is not even a blip on the radar. Yet it sparked a nationwide debate about misogyny, patriarchy and laughter at the wrong time.

    "Lets be clear, people do laugh in the Parliament. It is one of the ways of addressing issues and taking sarcastic digs at the opposition," points out Harish Ramaswamy, political commentator.

    "While the PMs reply was witty, I have a difference of opinion when you see a womans laughter as a demonic act. Though the reply was kind of soft, the intent seems to have been intense," he says.

    In a society where girls are told to be visible and not audible, a woman who laughs with gay abandon is a subject of much discomfort. The PM, who seemed to be more riled by the dismissiveness of the guffaw, did no service to the dignity of his position with the counter remark. If MPs can thump tables and throw around chairs, a woman can laugh.

    But the loud laugh was not appropriate for a leader representing a national party, says Shobha Karandlaje, BJP MP and State General Secretary. "As a minister of the Government of India, Renuka should have behaved responsibly. There should be some respect for the Prime Minister even if the school of thought is different."

    She adds, "I dont think his remark was a personal attack on her. He just referenced the serial in a lighter vein. He did not degrade her, she degraded herself."

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  • 02/14/18--23:20: On the walk of life
  • Sandalwood actor Kiran Srinivas began his career on the small screen with
    Paanch 5 Wrongs Make A Right. He was noticed for his character of Dev in 24. The actor is remembered for his performance in films like Zindagi Wins, Jamai Raja, Dahleez and Niruttara. He will soon be seen playing interesting roles in Kannada films Onthara Bannagalu and Chitrkut.

    A few of my favourite things:

    Protein shakes
    Chocolate and ice cream
    Watches
    Coffee

    "Being in the profession that I am I can never hope to have a weekend all to myself but whenever I do I make the best of it. But I must add that I dont wait for a weekend to arrive to do things that I love doing. I make sure that I dedicate some quality time to indulge in activities that I enjoy which could be anything from cooking and trekking to taking care of my friends pets.

    I make sure that I make everyday a meaningful one and thats precisely why I have never experienced boredom. When I am at home, I divide my time between watching movies and television series on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I love dogs and I sometimes I take care of my friends pets when they are out of town. I have never had the luxury of owning a pet myself but I have lost count of the number of pets that I have looked after in the absence of their owners. This is also one of my favourite pastimes. People may find it strange but I am often seen conversing with stray dogs.

    Cooking became a necessity when I moved to Mumbai a while ago. I began by making egg-based dishes and later started experimenting with more complicated ones. I dont mean to sound boastful but I can make Donne Biryani, rajma, rice, sambar and Puliyogare. I am used to eating six small meals.

    Hunger is one thing that I cant really control. I get grumpy and irritable when I dont get my food on time. There are a few weekends when I go trekking to places in and around Mumbai. Friends who accompany me arent from the entertainment industry. These treks not only keep me fit but also leave me feeling refreshed. I enjoy trekking because it toughens one from within and equips one to take on any challenge. Any outdoor activity excites me because it keeps me feeling fit. I also dont skip my workout sessions. I feel that something is amiss when I dont hit the gym. Everybody in Mumbai heads to the movies on a Friday, but I prefer to watch movies on other days because the theatres are less crowded.

    I make it a point to spend me time on weekends and I feel this is very important because it gives me enough room to reflect on my journey so far and plan my future course of action."


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    Fondly called Lady Bruce Lee of Sandalwood, actor Ayesha Habib, is remembered for her hard-core action sequences. Her kicks and punches in films like Chennamma IPS and Bhairavi IPS had become a sensation at their time. Ayesha is now back, kicking and punching as only she can in Jana Gana Mana, which has released today.

    Ayesha has been trained in mixed martial art form for as long as she can remember. And her guru is none other than her father Habib, who is a master in mixed martial arts.

    She packed her first punch when she was barely one and as she grew older, she was later taken through a series of rigorous training in all forms of martial arts. "By five or six, I had learnt Judo, Karate, Gymnastics, kick-boxing and Taekwondo. This helped me handle any role given to me with confidence. I am glad that I was not confined to a particular art form," Ayesha tells Metrolife.

    The actor feels that it is the only discipline that has brought her so far. Her day begins at 4 in the morning. She trains two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening every day.

    "The training gets a little rigorous when I am working on a film. I practise extra hard to get the action sequences right," she adds.

    How does she feel being called as the next action queen or Lady Bruce Lee? " I feel I dont deserve to equated to Bruce Lee because he is a legend and Ive just got started. I feel guilty sometimes but I am overwhelmed by the appreciation coming my way," she adds. She says that her fans keep her going. "Feedback from my fans add a lot of meaning to the sacrifices that go into perfecting my stunts. I am happy working in action-oriented projects because I get to be both the hero and heroine," she says.
    About her favourite on-screen martial art hero? Ayesha, says I am a die-hard fan of Shivarajkumar because I think he can pull off both action roles and dark characters very well. I also admire Allu Arjun for his original style."

    Talking about her role in Jana Gana Mana, Ayesha says, "I play a cop. Theres a twist in the tale when I am posted in a trouble-prone district where even senior police officers dread to go. But I take up the challenge and I am given a very complicated case which I manage to solve after a lot of struggle. My character is tough," says Ayesha.

    The action queen confesses that she yearns to do different characters. "I have never seen myself laugh on screen because all the roles offered to are action-oriented. I would like to do a romantic film," she says.

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    They play traditional jazz instruments with great skill but theyre far from being a jazz band. Which is why a name like NoJazz makes perfect sense.

    One of the most sought-after bands in France, NoJazz combines high energy with contemporary dance music grooves; a mixture of funk, electro, hiphop and jazz, of course.

    Having performed in more than 50 countries and at some of the biggest musical festivals in the world, the USP of the band is the surprise element it presents to the audience as it keeps exploring music in all forms. Currently in India for the launch of their latest album Soul Stimulation, keyboard player Philippe Balatier spoke to Rajitha Menon about their musical journey till now.


    Could you describe the journey of the band till now...

    The seeds were sowed in 2000, when we were playing in Paris in a jazz club. Electro jazz was just being introduced in those years and our music was an intense version of that. The next year, we went into a New York studio with Teo Macero, famous for his role in producing a series of albums by Miles Davis. Our first album came out in France in 2002 with Warner Jazz. So its been a steady yet exciting journey till now.


    Whats the story behind the name of the band?

    (Laughs) We found our name in our very first rehearsal! We were jamming and kept telling each other not to play too much jazz as that was not the sound we wanted to make. So in the end, we decided to take this name NoJazz.


    How would you describe your music?

    Its a mix of different musical cultures with improvisation playing a big part. We love travelling and so we take the energy of the different countries we have been to and mix it with our electronic and jazzy culture.


    Tell us something about your latest album Soul Stimulation...

    The genre can be defined as soul electro. For this album, we have new singer Jeffrey who is an incredible show man. And we have Stevie Wonder as a guest for this album too.


    If you could incorporate one element of Indian music into your songs, what would it be

    Anything is possible. Tablas, sitar, vocals - Indian music is so rich, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic. Your musical culture impress us.


    How would you describe an ideal audience?

    One who is willing to come along with us on a big journey. When this becomes possible, its magic. We saw something similar during our recent performance in Udaipur. People were jumping, singing, smiling, screaming...


    What do the band members do together, when not making music?

    We always have fun together.

    Travel is a big part of our plans. We feel lucky to be able to travel with our music. We get to visit new places, like India, and get a glimpse of so many different cultures.

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    Lavish settings, fabulous music, ornate costumes - the world of opera is a trip to fantasy world. The Navrasa Duende Global Carnival is bringing this art form to India, giving the audience a chance to watch performances from London Festival Opera, Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra, Flying Steps, Jinjo Crew, DIntensity Breakers and more.

    London Festival Opera has received critical acclaim for performances in many major theatres and festivals in the UK and overseas - from charity performances for The President of Malta to performing at a private soiree for The Spice Girls and covering venues like the La Fenice Opera House in Venice and Lee Shau Kee Grand Hall Hong Kong.

    Philip Blake-Jones, artistic director and founder of London Festival Opera, explains to Rajitha Menon what goes on behind the scenes.

    How does a typical opera production take place?

    Producing a conventional opera performance is a complex procedure which involves high costs and meticulous management. In addition to the singers and musicians, a production also needs costumes and scenery, and sometimes dancers and non-singing actors. For a performance by London Festival Opera, accompaniment ranges from a solo pianist to a full orchestra.

    What are the challenges involved in the process?

    It is crucial to engage an experienced cast of the highest musical standards. During an actual performance, the dynamic between the performers and audience is essentially the same - whether in a large concert hall or in someones home. Intimacy is key; even in a large venue the singers will come into the auditorium and serenade the audience during the performance.

    Is opera an art for all?

    Opera may be regarded a serious art, but it is highly entertaining too. Incredibly moving and emotional, and then fun and light-hearted, it reflects real life. Our aim always is to make a connection with the audience, whether they are seasoned opera lovers or newcomers.

    Is it nerve-wracking to perform in front of royalty and global leaders?

    It can be daunting performing for a VIP audience such as a member of the royal family or a world leader, but we are there to entertain them just like anyone else. For us, all members of the audience are VIPs! A particularly memorable occasion was performing for the former British Prime Minister, Sir John Major, at Chequers, his official country residence, where HRH The Prince of Wales was a guest of honour.

    Some fan reactions that you cherish?

    For me, the most gratifying response is when someone who has never been to an opera before comes up to me at the end of the performance and enthusiastically says I didnt know that I liked opera. Now I do!

    Thoughts about performing in India?

    This is our first large-scale performance in India. I have experience the magic of India once before and am thrilled to be returning. For the Navrasa Duende Global Carnival, I have created a programme with arias and ensembles written by some of the greatest Western composers including Mozart, Rossini, Bizet, Verdi and Puccini.

    What are you looking forward to during the performance?

    I am looking forward to actually speaking to the audience and explaining the key elements of each aria or ensemble. I understand that for many in the audience this might be their first experience of live opera. If that is the case, I think they will be surprised at the power of the singers voices. A singer trains his voice to be incredibly powerful and fill a large hall and carry above the instrumental ensemble.

    What does a typical performance day look like?

    After a good nights sleep, the cast will assemble in the morning or early afternoon at the venue for the crucial rehearsal to make sure the pieces are ready for the evenings performance. Meanwhile the wardrobe supervisor will be preparing the costumes and wigs. After a good meal (the artistes need to eat two hours before the performance to let their digestion settle), we will then change into costume, warm up our voices and gear up for the performance.

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    Priya Prakash Varrier, now described as the national crush, had no clue her spontaneous wink during the shooting of a song would become such a sensation. She hadnt expected she would be targeted by religious groups either.

    A Muslim body has filed a complaint against her saying her flirtatious gestures distract men from their religious duties.

    "I am owning this moment and I have no fear," Priya told Metrolife, when we called her at her Thrissur home.

    Manikya Malaraya Poovi is the song in her debut film Oru Adaar Love that has changed her life forever. Priya became an overnight online sensation after a clip from the film went viral.

    "I pinch myself to see if what is happening to me is real," an excited Priya says, when Metrolife called her up. Priya has become the subject of countless memes, featuring everyone from PM Modi to cricketer Dhoni to actor Vijayakanth. "Theres so much thought and creativity gone into making the memes," the 18-year-old says.

    Priya says the wink was spontaneous. "We never planned it or even discussed the scene. It was done on the spot," she recalls. The director wanted her to do something cute. "He wanted it to be noticed in the scene and also stay in peoples hearts even after the movie is released and gone," she says. It was the first time she was facing a camera. "I just did whatever I thought was most appropriate for the scene. The director liked it," she says.

    Her friends are excited, and her teachers are taking pride in her. Her father Prakash Unnikrishnan and mother Preetha Prakash have sounded a word of caution: they want her not to let the success go to her head. "They ask me to take things as they come," says Priya.

    Shes a dancer

    Priya was born and lived in Mumbai before she moved to Thrissur. She was only 10 when
    she began learning Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam. "I have performed
    at several places, including at temple festivals. I not only dance but sing as well." She attributes her spontaneous and quick eye movements to her training in classical dance forms. Priya is in her first year BCom at Vimala College in Thrissur. She plans to complete her education and become an actor. "I would like to pursue my passion for cinema," Priya says.

    What an expression, brow!

    Sreedevi Unni, actor and dancer, sees Priyas eyebrow movements, now a national fascination, as charming, colloquial, and not strictly classical. "Expressing something with the eyes and the eyebrows is an integral part of Indian classical dance but this particular movement has no connection with the core disciplines of Kathakali and Mohiniyattam," she told Metrolife. Priya has beautifully captured an expression difficult to portray. "It has a very cute and mischievous tone," Sreedevi says.

    Only in Metrolife

    An excited Priya chatted with DH Metrolife on Thursday, and her father Prakash Unnikrishnansaid it was the only Bengaluru paper she was speaking to.

    INSTAGRAM page flooded with messages: "Love letters and proposals are flooding
    my Instagram page. So many people have said I love you, I have lost count."

    INSTAGRAM HIT: On picture-sharing platform Instagram, Priyas following has spiked to
    32.5 lakh.

    And on TWITTER... "I was excited when Telugu actor Allu Arjun retweeted my song. Arjun Kapoor has started following me."

    What her costar Roshan Abdul Rahoof said: "He is thrilled and happy for me".

    Who she idolises: "I am a huge fan of Deepika Padukone and I have watched all her films.
    Theres something infectious about her smile."

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    After completing his graduation, Sourav Roy started working for a mobile service provider company. His dad warned him that he wasnt meant to do a 9 to 5 job.

    It took him seven months to realise that and finally make music a full-time profession.

    Today, Sourav is a Bollywood music producer, record producer and a music composer who received the GIMA Award for the Best Music Producer of the Year for the song London Thumakda from Queen.

    He took some time off to chat with Anila Kurian about his musical adventures in Bollywood.

    You grew up in a family with musical influences. Do you remember that moment when you decided that you wanted to be
    a musician?

    There was no such specific time or moment when I thought I would become a musician. It happened quite naturally. I did grow up in a musical family where my father was a tabla player and my mother was a singer.

    There was a time when I would not eat without listening to tabla solos by Ustad Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain. I was three years old then! I guess I inherited that habit and I have my parents to thank for that.

    After all the struggles, what was it like to finally make it in Bollywood?

    My parents have been my pillars of strength. I moved to Bollywood for better work. I never doubted myself so I waited for the opportunity and let my work do the talking. It was in 2015 with the GIMA Awards that gave me a new recognition and I am more enthusiastic to do better work.

    How was it to work with Pritam, Amit Trivedi and other well-known directors?

    Ive learnt a lot working with stalwarts of the industry. It has taught me to cater to both the worlds, the commercial and not so genres. At the same time, its also about creating a bridge for myself and knowing the balance between these two.

    What are some of the projects youre working on right now?

    Race 3, Sanju and Student of the Year 2.

    Some of the goals you want to achieve in the years to come...

    I want to do everything associated with music, be it composing, producing or live shows. I want to see myself as an artiste one who creates something new for the audience and experiments with the tools of creativity.

    What are some of the other things youre passionate about?

    When Im not working, I love to spend time with my daughter who is also growing up fast. I dont want to miss her childhood.

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    Binge-watching video-streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime is a new addiction. The sites also stream series running into multiple episodes. Young people say it is hard to stop watching a series, and that is what gets them hooked.

    Roshan Jain, senior consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, finds the problem rampant. "People dont come with video addiction directly but seek help for behavioural problems such as social avoidance and lack of confidence," he says.

    His advice: Avoid binging on shows even if the content is interesting. "We must understand that awareness is key and moderation the solution. It is high time people became aware of the potential harm binging can have in the long run," he says.

    Ad-free, compelling content is a reason people like streaming sites. Niya Alexander, a communications professional, spends six to eight hours watching movies on weekends.

    "I usually binge-watch or do a movie marathon. It is the perfect way to laze around with friends over a couple of beers," says Niya. She also spends a couple of hours on the site every day. But she also makes sure to get away from the screen and go out to meet her friends. "The ideal is a mix of indoors and outdoors," she says.

    Kishor Prasad, who works for Accenture, is among those who has his watching in control. He spends half his Saturday or Sunday afternoon watching TV shows on Amazon Prime. That doesnt count as binging.

    "We recently did a workplace survey and found that the short-term consequences can be lifestyle changes," says Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional professor of clinical psychology, Shut (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) Clinic, Nimhans.

    What the survey found: People are sleep-deprived as they watch one episode after the other.

    "This can lead to frequent distractions at the workplace. Changing their focus from work to online activity sometimes affects their productivity," he says.

    How long is a binge?

    Deaddiction specialists are still trying to understand technology addiction and define binging.
    "It requires empirical data to understand how many hours is a binge. We often see cases
    with eight to 10 hours of use at a stretch, at the expense of offline demands," says a Nimhans expert.

    Three As to de-addict

    Awareness: Strengthen awareness. It can come from newspaper articles or media stories, which constantly warn people against binging.
    Acceptance: With awareness comes acceptance. Addicts must understand they have a problem.
    Action: After understanding the problem, take action. Structure the day to set aside enough time for offline activities.

    How binging affects you:
    Makes you avoid social contact.
    Deprives you of sleep.
    Affects your productivity at work.

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    Depression is a serious mental health disorder that many around us are trying to overcome. While many have started talking about it, there are still some who need some more support.

    Thats why The Live Love Laugh Foundation has started an online campaign called #AtoZOfDepression where they have been uploading what or how each letter in the alphabet can help one overcome depression.

    The campaign was launched with the purpose of bringing awareness and throwing light on the experiences of people with depression.

    "Rather than opting for a more general A-Z of Mental Health, the foundation chose to focus on depression specifically to debunk the myth of depression being nothing more than just sadness. Through the campaign, the foundation highlights the different symptoms and emotions experienced by an individual going through depression; including fatigue, irritation, weight inconsistencies etc, and brings together other stakeholders and elements who are key to the de-stigmatisation and recovery process," says Anna Chandy, the chairperson.

    If youve been following The Live Love Laugh Foundation Instagram page, you would have noticed the alphabetical posts. Each letter focusses on one word the letter holds as a form of assurance that everything will be alright.

    There are also posts on the stigma associated with it, implying a need for a more empathetic society. Furthermore, the campaign also provides definitions to conditions related to depression and examples for clearer understanding to both an individual going through depression and a caregiver who provides primary support to the individual.

    So if youre looking for some help, maybe this could be something you could turn to.

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  • 02/14/18--23:44: An American holiday
  • It was the fall of 2017. My husbands scheduled business trip to the USA coincided with my daughters midterm school vacations and we planned for a family holiday.


    All our weekends in August were spent planning for our trip to the land of dreams. On the day of our scheduled departure, we were supposed to catch an early morning Lufthansa flight.

    After the immigration procedures, we were surprised to be treated to a live Hindustani Classical vocal recital at our airport at 2 am.

    It was an 18-hour long flight from Bengaluru to Detroit, with an hour-long stopover in Frankfurt for transit. There was a very short time for transit and we literally ran from one terminal to another.

    We were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by warm and sunny weather in Detroit. We took a taxi to Holiday Inn Express in Birmingham, a pleasant and clean place.

    In the morning, we were treated to some lovely American breakfast. While my husband was busy attending his scheduled business conference and conducting workshops for his Detroit team, my daughter and I had the opportunity to explore the beautiful cityscape around us, interspersed with its landscaped gardens and parks.

    We observed that Birmingham was more widely spread out and did not have high rise structures. It was a pleasant experience walking around this beautiful place. We visited some amazing government run libraries, which enjoy a good patronage by all age groups.

    We hired a cab using the Lyft app on my mobile to ferry us around to slightly distant places.

    We visited the Somerset Mall which was an architectural marvel with its building blocks spread across a very wide road and connected by a beautifully designed skywalk.

    The ambience inside was very pleasant with large skylights allowing the sunlight to stream into the
    nooks and corners of the building and some lovely music to keep the mood upbeat.

    We visited The Marvins Marvellous Mechanical Museum. Taste of India and Flavours of India treated us to some awesome Indian cuisine during our stay.

    We visited The Ford Factory at Rouge for a guided tour. We had to take a bus ride from the Henry Ford Museum to the factory, where we were briefed on the history of the Ford factory in their very own miniplex. We were also told about their achievements and current innovations.

    We were then allowed to walk on a bridge along the periphery of the factory building, observing the stage by stage assembly of their very famous F150 trucks.

    We saw a lot of young men and women working diligently as a well-knit team. Later we were taken to an observatory on the rooftop to observe their green initiative.

    Their factory rooftops and external wall surfaces are covered by a cover of green sedum, a kind of flowering plant, which provides a thermal insulation against the harsh external weather and reduces the load on internal air conditioning. It also helps in rainwater harvesting.

    The next stop on our trip was Florida. We stayed at the Disneys Art of Animation Resort. We were given our magic bands at the welcome desk. The magic bands were to act as our e-wallets, e-entry tickets and e-keys for our room during the course of our stay. Our little princess, whose birthday was around that time, was offered a very special room facing the pool, its window overlooking a huge statue of the Sea God. We quickly had some supper at the resorts food court. We went to our awesome and unique Ariel-themed room and freshened up. We spent our first evening at the Disney Springs.

    Despite the drizzling damp weather, our spirits were not dampened. We enjoyed our window shopping and enjoyed some lovely live band music while exploring the Springs.
    Next morning after a quick breakfast, we set out to spend a magical day at Disneys Magic Kingdom. We
    took a picture of our daughter dressed in a Cinderella attire, right in front of Disneys Cinderella Castle. It was to become some prized memorabilia. We enjoyed the Fantasy Parade and fireworks in the evening. The next day we visited Epcot. We had fun at the Soarin, a flight simulator attraction.

    Next morning, we had breakfast, packed up and vacated the room. We left our luggage at the resorts cloakroom. While we waited for the bus to take us to the airport, we explored the resort and took a lot of pictures. We took an afternoon flight to New York.

    Beautiful New York was dressed up in shimmering lights and was all set to welcome us. Our relative picked us from the airport and took us to his house in New Jersey.

    During our stay there, we shifted camp every couple of days to stay with and enjoy the warm hospitality of our various relatives. Every evening we spent in New Jersey were evenings of celebrations with family and friends. During the day we used to take the train to New York to explore the city.

    On our first day, we booked tickets for hop-on hop-off bus ride. We explored Downtown.

    We visited the Statue of Liberty. A ferry, with a guide who briefed us about the various historical events and the landmark buildings along the New York skyline, took us back and forth along the Hudson
    River while visiting the Statue of Liberty.

    Next day we explored Uptown, visited the Museum of Natural History and literally got lost in Central Park. We spent a scintillating evening mesmerised by the large LED advertisement screens at Times Square. We did a bit of last minute shopping at Jersey Mall.

    After enjoying all the bonhomie, we were ready to leave the US with all the love and warmth we had received. With a grateful heart, we were ready to bid adieu to America. It was a dream holiday indeed!


    (The author can be contacted soumyasprakash@yahoo.co.in)

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    Actor Aishwarya Arjun, who has been working on Prema Baraha for over a year terms her role in the film as intense. Prema Baraha which has released today is written and directed by actor-director Arjun Sarja.

    Aishwarya points out that she was given three scripts by her father and she chose this one because she found the story and characterisation extremely challenging. The film is a love story but a very different one.

    In an interview with Nina C George, Aishwarya talks about her foray into the Kannada film industry.

    How do you feel after the release of Prema Baraha?

    The reviews are still pouring in but somehow I feel still and many people say that its a good sign . The film belongs to my father because he has worked to make every little detail interesting.

    How was it to play a journalist?

    Portraying my character has made me a stronger person. All the films made by my father have a patriotic flavour to them and this one is no different. It is not easy to portray the life of a journalist because they have to report and ensure that the story flows in a certain format. I am sure any actor would have loved to play such a character because it is versatile and intense.

    How was it to have Chandan as a costar?

    Chandan and I had to attend a lot of rehearsals and workshops. These sessions helped me know him better. The good rapport that we shared off screen has strengthened our performance.

    How was it to work under the direction of your father?

    I belong to the third generation of actors and theres a lot of expectation from family and friends. I knew that I had to excel in my work because I was being introduced by my father. I couldnt afford to falter.

    The film has a lot of songs. Let us about it?

    Every song in the film has been strategically placed and has a purpose for being there. The introduction song has my father, Chandan and me grooving to peppy tunes. Theres another song with Darshan in it. The Hanuman song has become a favourite among the youth and Manase Manase has already crossed five lakh views online.


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