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Let’s tell the young ones a story

Grandparents make for some of the best storytellers. In a society that boasts of strong oral tradition, elders at home have played a crucial role in narrating stories from mythology and folklore to each generation. With technology taking over, traditional methods of storytelling have taken a backseat. “Television is a competitor. Though grandparents do a great job of passing on the oral tradition, they are dwindling in number and they are also caught up with television viewing,” says Deepa Kiran, a storyteller, dancer and educationist who founded Story Arts India.

A small but growing tribe of professional storytellers periodically conducts sessions for children. Former teacher Deepa Kiran has been a storyteller since 2008 and combines dance and Harikatha into her narrative. She chooses stories based on the age group, the school (international or government schools) and context (special days like World Book Reading Day for instance). Experiential understanding coupled with intuitiveness, she says, has helped her grow as a narrator.

Deepa currently has two productions, a musical narration of Dasavathara using Harikatha, and a 45-minute production on bhakti movement. A trained dancer who performs Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, she incorporated dance for a story on mathematics. By the end of the year, she hopes to have a team for new productions. “In the earlier days, storytellers would be invited to narrate tales and given grains and pulses in return. Now, it’s nice to see storytelling picking up again. I’ve had people come up and ask if they can train to be a storyteller. That’s heartening,” she says.

Noise and energy

Storytelling sessions happen through the year, but come under spot light in summer when parents are looking to engage their children in creative activities that will keep them away from television and tablet screens. Writer Nandini Nayar conducts sessions for children in the age group of three to seven. “I narrate stories I’ve written. I make sure that children eight years and above are not part of these sessions because the stories would be an insult to their intelligence and since they are likely to answer questions easily, younger children will feel left out,” she reasons.

Guddu’s Photo, Where is Amma? What Shall I Make? My Grandfather’s Stick are among her popular stories. She makes these sessions interactive. “You should see the fear on the faces of little children when I ask them if they’ve ever lost their mother for a few minutes. Then, they are hooked until they know what happened to the child in the story and where the mother was found,” she says.

At times, organisers hand out clay which children use to make objects after a narration of What Shall I Make? or a paper walking stick on which they can paint or paste funny stickers after listening to My Grandfather’s Stick. “The noise and energy from these children is infectious,” she says.

A dialogue of characters

Cheryl Rao, who writes for both young children and teens, chooses the age group depending on the story she wants to narrate. “If my book is for younger children, then I move away from the story for a while and get into other related situations to ensure participation, understanding and continuing interest. If the story or excerpt I am reading involves dialogue, then I get a couple of children to read the dialogue of each character while I read the narrator’s section. This does need preparation — maybe one reading of that section before we take it to an audience,” she explains. Cheryl conducts reading sessions of her stories and feels the interest and encouragement of parents is the first step to ensure a larger audience and make storytelling sessions popular.  “We also have an immense resource in grandparents, don’t we?” she asks.

“In schools, storytelling and reading sessions should not be restricted to Library Week or annual literature fests but should be held regularly,” she says. 

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Let’s tell the young ones a story

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All that glitters is ‘pulao’

Legend has it that one of the Nizams of Hyderabad used to eat gold-laced paan as an aphrodisiac and that’s how he could keep his several wives happy. With the end of the Nizam era, gold leaf paan is not such a common thing. But how about some chicken pulao with gold? Yes, you read that right. Chicken pulao laced with gold leaf — bangaru kodi pulao.

Launched on Monday, a tweet by its creator — Kuchipudi Venkat — created a buzz among food lovers within minutes much to his delight. His phone has been is ringing incessantly ever since. Also a film-maker, Venkat’s love affair with food is as deep as his love for movies. Besides ideating on business ventures, he also has a partnership with Ravikanth, the brain behind ‘7 Biryanis’. The bangaru kodi pulao however is only available at ‘Kitchen off Kuchipudi’ near Durgam Cheruvu.

So how did the idea come to Venkat? “I love food that doesn’t just sound good but appeals and tastes good as well. While silver leaf is a common thing seen on desserts, gold is used on very rare occasions. However, just placing a gold leaf over the pulao isn’t enough to make the dish look and taste appealing. The gold leaf is the final addition to make it look attractive, the way the pulao is made also different. The rice grains are fried in low flame to get a desired light brown effect. We aren’t making use of any artificial colouring agent to give the colour to the rice. After frying the rice with the special spices, we put in on dum with the marinated chicken. Finally before being served the gold leaf is placed. It is the most tricky part of the dish, as the leaves are extremely light and when exposed to air they can fly and break within minutes,” explains Venkat.

Initially available in limited quantities, the bangaru kodi pulao can also be prepared on request at the restaurant and cannot be packed for take away. It is served with a special majjiga charu chicken.

So this Akshaya Trithiya, instead of stocking the locker with gold, go eat some gold pulao and sing bangaru kodi petta gleefully. And if the gold-crazy wife is angry, take her out for dinner that serves real gold on a silver plate. After all she is precious, isn’t she?

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Ordinary film from extraordinary star

Be it narcissism, be it ambition or a last desire, Manoranjan wants to come up with one great performance that will make him immortal…he wants a film that will be remembered for posterity. Now the dying man’s dream for an impeccable story that is somewhat Chaplinesque, is a surreal task which only his mentor is capable of realising. . This is where the filmmaker has taken the audience, or should we say the Telugu audience, for granted

Kamal Hassan the artiste as Uttaman picks up a character of a folk artiste, the purpose of this sub plot is allegorical. It is meant to evoke humour, and does entertain initially but as it progresses it lets you down completely. If the intention is to perform a great role, where is it? How would one understand the comparison of the folk artiste to Prahlada? The folk art which originated down South is supposed to have similarities with his life as a film artiste and move on parallel lines. Now if a Telugu film dubbed into Tamil were to have a sub plot that was narrated through “chekka bajana; ‘jada kolatam’ , ‘katti saamu’ or karra saamu’, would the audience of another region understand it?

In Uttama Villain, the screenplay turns confusing. What is meant to connect emotionally leaves you detached. On one end Kamal wanted to move the audience emotionally as an artiste who is being snatched away and on the other end he wants people to laugh, be entertained with the folk drama. This does not happen. The film moves back and forth; for a few minutes you enjoy the actor’s role conflict in the social drama. However the very next minute you see an artiste who is displaying his intelligence that only a few can understand. In this balancing act, Kamal Hassan couldn’t appease the common movie going public.

In the dubbed format, the dialogues aren’t simplistic, the length gets worrisome in the musical drama. Nasser as the minister who kills the king and chains the princess and Uttaman being used as an instrument to round off the story is just a comedy on paper.

If only there was another relatable and simpler sub plot, this film would have been a memorable one, if not a great piece of art. What else is there for Kamal Hassan to prove? He has pushed his boundaries far but his obsession with his art, to get better, offbeat, more experimental has cost him a lot, in opening collections as well as good reviews. Those who have watched Kamal’s Telugu films, a generation who is not oblivious to his professional and personal life will immediately guess that Uttama Villain is a hugely personal film for the artiste.

If the artiste himself had directed it, it would perhaps be different. The denouement came in the form of spending more than an hour on the ballad form; it is unfortunate that even children who saw Nasser’s ear being bitten off didn’t find the sub plot funny. It is very obvious that Ramesh Aravind couldn’t handle the heavy piece and strike a perfect balance between what was natural (the actor’s life) and surreal (the folk lore). The detailing, the slow pace, lack of entertainment, the autobiographical references, three hour span all becomes bearable and enjoyable provided you are blessed with an ‘Uttama’ taste or if you are fan of Kamal Hassan.

There is another generation curious to watch Kamal’s cinema which is totally zoned out, the Telugu here isn’t colloquial and one gets the feeling of watching a puppet show. While you move from the simple to the ambiguous, you even miss out the fact that it is Kamal who has dubbed and not SPB.

Ghibran and Shamdatt’s contribution to the visual extravaganza is monumental, Uttama Villain we repeat is for a niche audience, otherwise it is just 50-50.

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Ranbir Kapoor’s special gesture

Ranbir Kapoor, nephew of Shashi Kapoor, narrated the journey of the veteran actor-producer in the showbiz through a special video screened at the 62nd National Film Awards ceremony when his uncle was honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2014. The 77-year-old actor was not present at the ceremony due to health reasons at theceremony.

But Ranbir took up the role of a narrator and introduced him as ‘A junoon’ and ‘An icon’. Shashi Kapoor will be feted in Mumbai soon.

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Nagarjunasagar to be made world-class tourist destination

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao promised to develop Nagarjunasagar into a world class tourist destination for Buddhists. After offering prayers at Lord Buddha statue at Buddhavanam marking Buddha Purnima here on Monday, the Chief Minister told the Tourism officials that he would constitute a separate development authority for Nagarjunasagar as the most sought after tourism place in Telangana.

It is learnt that the Chief Minister will have meeting with top tourism officials of the TSTDC, Principal Secretary of ministry concerned and officials from various departments in Nagarjunasagar to discuss about the issue on Monday evening. On the final day of three-day training session for the elected representatives of Telangana Rastra Samithi, Mr. Rao asked them to distance themselves from corrupt practices.

“There are many ways to earn money, but we have got very rare opportunity to serve the people,” he said. Stating that they would remain in the history of Telangana for being first elected representatives of Telangana, he said that they had the responsibility to provide strong platform for the long-term development of State.

Later, he along with Irrigation Minister T. Harish Raio, Energy Minister G. Jagadishwar Reddy and Minister for Civil Supplies Jupally Krishna Rao conducted an aerial survey on the SLBC Tunnel Project and proposed Nakkalagandi Reservoir in Nalgonda District.

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Kangana, Priyanka to host joint party for big win at National Awards




Actresses Kangana Ranaut and Priyanka Chopra have decided to
throw a join party to celebrate winning the National Award. Kangana was
bestowed with the Best Actress award for her brilliant performance in ‘Queen’, while
Priyanka received it for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment
for her biopic ‘Mary Kom’.

Both the leading ladies of Bollywood have shared a strong
and friendly relation since their days in the 2008 release ‘Fashion’. The
Madhur Bhandarkar film too had fetched them the National Awards as well as
Filmfare awards.

The private party is being held at Kangana’s
place and neither of the girls had any issues when the idea of a joint bash
cropped up. The entire cast and crew of both ‘Mary Kom’ and ‘Queen’ have been
invited to join the bash. Kangana and Priyanka are personally looking into the
details, including food and drinks. Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and pugilist
Mary Kom, along with her husband K Onler Kom are also invited to celebrate the
success.

Kangana, Priyanka to host joint party for big win at National Awards

Karan Johar presents first look of ‘Bahubali’




Karan Johar presented the first look posters of Telegu film
‘Bahubali: The Beginning’ through his microblogging site. “Proud and honored to present @ssrajamouli‘s labor of love…..#LiveTheEpic#Baahubali ….releasing 10th July, 2015!!!” he
posted on Twitter.

Kjo has loved
the concept and story of S S Rajamouli’s ‘Bahubali…’ and has decided to
showcase the mega film in Hindi as well. He has reportedly paid an
enormous amount for the rights to the movie, and will be distributing the film along with
Anil Thadani of AA Films. ‘Baahubali’ is a
mega budget film that transcends regional boundaries and has a pan-India
appeal. It’s a big moment for Indian cinema where two of the countries renowned
filmmakers have joined hands to present one big movie across India.

S S Rajamouli
is an award winning director-producer and has had nine back-to-back hits. He
is known for films like Eega and Magadheera, and is popular in Tollywood as the
7th wonder for his magnanimous success. Karan too is as successful with his
debut film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ fetching him Filmfare Award for Best Director.
He has a string of hit films like ‘Kabhi
Khushi Kabhie Gham’, ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’, ‘My Name Is Khan’ and several
others in his kitty that  have
established him as one of the leading director-producers in Bollywood.

‘Bahubali…’ is a story of two brothers and their fight for
their Kingdom. The star cast of the film include Tamanna, who was also seen in
Hindi movie ‘Himmatwala’ (2013), besides Prabhas, Anushka and Rana Daggubati.
The film is made in two parts and the first part will release on May 15.

Karan Johar presents first look of ‘Bahubali’