Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Samantha is in love, madly & deeply!

Actor Samantha Prabhu, who was well-liked for her role 'Jessi' in Ye Maya Chesave, launched the success collection of Aasahadam sales at Kukatpally Kalaniketan...

Dazzled in peach colored fusion wear, as she stepped out of the diamond silver Skoda Laura, hundreds of spectators and a handful of lensmen vied with each other to capture the bewitching beauty in their respectful cameras. Well, we're raving raunchy Samantha Prabhu of Ye Maya Chesave-fame.

Now busy with two films (wherein she plays a key role and not the lead) in her kitty opposite 'icon' Mahesh Babu and 'amazing' NTR (she tags them as), Samantha appears to have been more curious about her career graph. "I want to fall and rise in love like any other 22 years old girl. And, I'd a few crushes, too. The first one in my Class X. Now, don't compel me to reveal the details. It's all in vain. He is still unaware of it!"

Inquired about her dream date or man, the gorgeous lady wears a naughty smile to tease the journos. "In fact, I'm in love right now... madly and deeply with my work, work and work."

A model in her college days, Samantha entered the filmdom fortuitously and is quite overwhelmed with the response evoked amongst the audience to her debut Ye Maya. "I watched Ye Maya in theatre with the audiences and was quite moved with the way they appreciated it. Wow, I never expected this to happen in my life. Touch wood," she yells.

A terrific shopaholic she is, this Chennai-born seductress loves to drape saris. "Nothing on earth can be as feminine as a sari. I'm comfy in jeans and tee, but dress up only to go with the occasion. Hey, I'm girlish and could be reasonably crazy at times, you mind."

An active member on Twitter, Samantha has never been into these things until Ye Maya happened. "It's pretty essential to know what the world thinks about you, particularly in the glam industry. So, I started tweeting and found it great. Thankfully, I receive more compliments from the admirers than criticism. But, I consider the critics' (they're friends in my case) views as well."

Not a gadget-freak though, she bought Blackberry recently only to update her whereabouts, film shoots and emotions on Twitter. "It's addictive but I never see it as a platform to market myself and the films I act in." Certainly, way to go!

Rayalaseema Ruchulu on platter

'A gastronome's delight' - an epicure describes it. 'It adds 'spice' to our life' - the other one tags it. 'The right place for the bon vivant to be in' - a foodie coins. 'Rayalaseema Ruchulu' definitely has more to narrate about its flavors...

The wafting aroma of masala ingredients greets and reminds of grand mom's kitchen, the moment one enters this restaurant at Lakdi-ka-pul.

The handicrafts and paintings silhouetting the shipshape furnishings avow tranquility it offers amidst the daily hustle-bustle. And, the delicacies on platter promise the real 'spice' of Ralayaseema region it doles out.

It's been seven years that Rayalaseema Ruchulu played the 'host perfect' to the city gourmets and is still counting. "Well, the menu has it all to keep us going, since all the ingredients we use are prepared by our chefs. Our objective is to familiarize the tastes of yesteryears with the Hyderabadi foodies," states its manager Jaipal Reddy.

Right from soups and starters to main course and desserts (Chinese too!), the restro dishes out a wide range of cuisine that has the essence of Rayalaseema region. Raagi Sankati, Natu Kodi/Chaapala Pulusu and Talakaya Mamsam have the highest takers, while Jonna Roti and the extra spicy Guntur Chilly Chicken form the best combo. Vegetarians mostly go for Gutti Vankaya/ Aloo Tomato curries and Kaju Fry.

"Priced at Rs 20 to 300 (maximum), the delicacies made of chicken, mutton, prawns, crabs, rabbit, Japanese Quails and fish certainly are appetizing and not heavier on wallets either," wonders Saroja, a government employee.

Located in the center of the city, the Lakdi-ka-pul branch witnesses a huge rush that encompasses government servants, politicos, policemen, local residents, students and those staying in the lodges and hotels nearby.

"Around 20 cooks, including 10 head chefs (all from Rayalaseema), work here to cater to the needs of the food connoisseurs. The take away session is quite busy parceling food to secretaries of the biggies, employees of state secretariat/governor's bungalow and film stars," adds Jaipal.

The two-time Times Food Festival Award winner is on an expansion mode now. "Apart from the Santhinagar branch started seven years ago and the one at Lakdi-ka-pul (now 144-seater) in 2009, one was launched at Ameerpet two months ago. Jubilee Hills will hail the other in a couple of months," says its Managing Director Uttam Reddy

Twin cities gearing up for Bonalu

The normally busy 'X' roads at Langar House wore a festive look on Thursday last. So did the lane leading to Golconda Fort via Chhota Bazaar and the heritage structure itself. The Aashadha maasam has brought in relieving monsoons and irresistible discount sales coupled with an opportunity to rediscover our age-old traditions and customs.

Yes, the Bonalu festival has begun customarily with much fanfare, spreading its charm beyond the boundaries of the state. The ritual, that the Telangana region is renowned for, dates back to more than 400 years - when the Nizams had their fair share in preserving our rich cultural heritage.

Bonalu (meaning prasadam offered to the deity) usually consists of rice, vegetables, honey, jiggery and curd filled in three pots. "Decorated with turmeric/vermillion paste and neem leaves, the pots (clay ones are now being replaced with bronze and silver pots) are topped with a deepam that is offered to the deity after taking out a procession," says K Krishna, one of the members of Central Peace and Welfare Committee at Langar House division.

Draped in color papers and embellished with turmeric/vermillion paste, the thotte (a makeshift bamboo dome) carrying the images of Goddess Jagadambika or Renukamba and Her six sisters welcomes all and sundry. The procession culminating at the Fort (nearly 7 km) is taken out only after pattu vastrams and pooja are offered to the thotte.

"The presiding deity of Jagadamba Mahankali Temple at Golconda Durgam receives the first pooja amongst all the seven siblings. At Golconda Jagadamba Bonalu, pooja is performed in five intervals on Thursdays and Sundays. The sixth pooja (Laskhar Bonalu) is offered at Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad followed by the one at Laldarwaaza Mahankali Bonalu in Old City," informs N Jagadish, Maithri Committee member.

While the teen maar and fierce dance steps of poturajulu (considered the brothers of the Goddesses) keep the spirits high, devotion overflows in every moment during the fiesta.

The concept evolved when many people had lost their lives to communicable diseases, several years ago, during monsoons. "Unaware of the scientific reasons behind their practices, our ancestors (irrespective of caste, religion and creed) believed that the Goddesses were showering health on them. We're just rediscovering the beauty in the rituals and keeping it alive," wonders Laxman, who has been donning the role of Poturaju for 15 years now.

Rafajjahaan, a resident of Moti Darwaza partaking in the festivities for the last 20 years, is quite inspired by the spirit of togetherness that bonalu proclaims. "The festival has been a testimonial to the feel of 'unity' prevalent among us Muslims and Hindus for several years. Both my sons were roped in to the Maithri committee by the city police to extend help in peacefully conducting the carnival.

"The festival has thousands and lakhs of devotees coming down from the nearby places and other states. Hence, we deployed around 400 policemen to ensure safety and security," quips G Sridhar, Inspector of Police, Langar House police station.

"Accommodation and drinking water are being taken care of in view of the huge rush in coming days," informs Padmanabham, Chairman of Golconda Jagadambika Temple committee.

Green Ganeshas in the making

The State Government and NGOs are putting their best efforts to advocate the use of eco-friendly colors and materials in making the idols for Ganesh Chaturdhi...

With Ganesh Chaturdhi round the corner, the twin cities are gearing up for the 11-day carnival that grabs eyeballs for reasons galore. However, 'water pollution' caused during the festivities has been the talk of the town for years now. The government and several

NGOs are, as usual, leaving no stone unturned to promote 'eco-friendly Ganesh'.

Around 23,000 idols would be consecrated this year in the twin cities and the number might shoot up, according to Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi. While the government and Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) are believed to be offering incentives to artists in using natural colors, NGOs like Forum for A Better

Hyderabad and Society for Awareness and Vision on Environment (SAVE) are advocating the use of natural materials like grass, clay and paper instead of plaster of paris and paints in making the idols.

"This year, we are planning to distribute for free some 50,000 eco-friendly (eight-inch for household pooja and five-foot for pandals) idols painted with natural colors, out of which 500 are non- colored clay models. The idols of smaller size are meant for the devotees to take home for the festival while the 500 bigger ones measuring above four feet will be distributed to pandals. Around 15-20 artists from West Bengal are working on these idols at NTR Gardens," informs Vijay Ram, an artist working with the SAVE.

Known for its huge dimensions, the around 45-46 foot Ganesh statue at Khairatabad this time will advocate 'world peace' with the Lord setting out his journey on Hamsavahanam and Pushpaka Vimanam. "Decked up more in natural colors instead of Nerolac Paints (lead-free though), our Ganesh is eco-friendly to a great deal this time," says S Sudarshan, Secretary, Khairatabad Ganesh Utsav Committee.

"We are left with some colors distributed by the government last year. With some more to be disseminated this year, the Ganesh idol is all set to wear a 'green' look. Our website - ganapathideva.org - keeps informing the public about the daily updates on making of the murat," tells Raj Kumar, Organizing Secretary.

When inquired about the hue and cry over pollution, vice-president of Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi Karodimal Narsingh Puria said, "Neither the paints nor the material used in making the idols are contributing to water pollution anymore. Now the HMDA is taking up the cleanup drive at Hussainsagar and other water bodies immediately after visarjan. Moreover, we are putting forth our best efforts in propagating 'Green Ganesh'. The rest is with the government to enlighten the public."

  • The Pollution Control Board in association with Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University is organizing a workshop for artistes and Ganesh Utsav Committees on the use of natural colors for the idols.
  • Though the festival is ahead, the APPCB is inactive in taking up the necessary steps.

Looks do matter

When surrounded by glamour, which is the name of the game in segments like hospitality, aviation, FMCG, fashion and entertainment, it's pretty essental for the urbane to look and feel beautiful. Hyderabad Journal gets a touch-up as well...

'Beauty in the flesh will continue to rule the world,' - Florenz Ziegfield.

The aphorism does fit with the Gen-Y, who doesn't hesitate shelling out thousands on 'good looks' to turn heads. And, making most of the situations are salons and parlors in the city, multiplying in numbers by the day.

"The surge in demand for beauty services has the size of industry grow at 15-20 percent annually (a turnover of Rs 2,000 crore) in India this year," informs Ch Anuradha, director, Anoo's International Beauty School (AIBS).

Right from hair coloring, manicure, facials, waxing and body massage to electrolysis, chemical peels, micro derma, weight management treatments and aromatherapy... you just name it, the salons have it.

A cursory glimpse at the parlors in the neighborhood would give an inkling of the ever-growing beauty 'requirement', which was hitherto a choice, of the conscious-self in the recent times. Twenty-eight-year old Sandhya Rani Panigrahi, lecturer in Chemistry at a city college says, "To be the center of attraction is every individual's desire. Since people tend to pay attention to minute of details, it is a 'must' to project oneself the right way."

Not so extravagant though, as she underlines, Sandhya does get a touch-up every now and then. "I've good many followers among students," she winks.

Dr Fathima, a cosmetologist with Not Just Skin Deep Clinic at Banjara Hills quips, "India is a country where beauty ages back to ancient times. However, it caught the fancy of one and all, irrespective of gender and age, only just. After all, looking beautiful is a feel-good factor that helps boost one's confidence levels."

Certainly, chips in Anwar-ur-Rehman, a 37-year-old pilot. "Beauty has its charm spread all over. And, the Hyderabadi men too are unflinchingly going for a 'metro' look."

Not to forget, beauty is directly proportional to the healthy living of individuals. "So staying close to nature is much important. Hence, I study physiology and anatomy of an individual before going for treatment," states Vijayalakshmi, proprietor, Mirrors Spa & Salon at Banjara Hills.

Meanwhile, the foray of corporate and international players has added to the demand. "The industry will require five lakh beauty specialists in the next four years, making beauty a hot pursuit for all," points out Monica Bahl, Head (National Operations), VLCC Institute of Beauty Health and Management.

The sprouting parlors in every nook and cranny of the city testify to the same. "So, please visit a trained beautician," cautions Vijayalakshmi. Point taken!

In order to create better opportunities for the prospective talents, the IGNOU joined hands with the VLCC (has academic link ups with Doncaster College-UK and Cengage Learning-US) recently to offer beauty and nutrition courses in a face-to-face mode. Also, AIBS (affiliated to the City and Guilds, UK) launched a two-year MSc in Cosmetology in collaboration with the JNTU... these, apart from other career-oriented short and long-term courses.

Desperate to give in, seriously!

RJ Shekhar Basha is pretty desperate to bite the dust.The winner of the Best RJ Award consecutively thrice given away by the India Radio Forum feels it's high time to find mighty opponents to give in. He pours out his heart in a freewheeling chat with Hyderabad Journal.

"I'm longing for a tough fight and want to see myself losing to somebody's wit and intellect," radio jockey Shekhar from Big 92.7 FM exclaims on being inquired what he does to retain the top slot as an RJ.

The heartthrob of radio-buffs across the city has a quota at the India Radio Forum that honors the best of radio shows and RJs, every year. "Had I filed my nomination this year, I would have won the Best RJ Award again. But, I'm all elated to sweep the awards for best breakfast show and best promo for four years in a row. Now, I'm greedy for more in these two categories," he laughs.

Does it mean Shekhar Basha has no competitor with 'mettle'?! He diplomatically makes it clear, "RJing isn't all about blabbering. It isn't about sounding 'sweet' over radio either, but providing infotainment to the listeners, which I strictly follow." There are a handful of fellow radio jockeys that Shekhar admires, who according to him would make it big only if hone their skills.

The software engineer-RJ-VJ is recently seen donning the role of a tutor. "Yes, I deliver a guest lecture for free on radio jockeying at LAMBS Institute, set up by a UK firm, for those pursuing MBA in Media," he says with a glint of pride.

Any plans to set up an institute all by himself, then? Shekhar rules out the idea saying, "There are just five radio stations in Hyderabad and hardly any scope for all the students landing a job. No business plans, please!"

Might be he is overburdened playing multi-role, especially that of a teacher! "Well, there's a good teacher in me. And, I'm on cloud nine taking some time out to live my passion. I give enough time to my admirers who have been my support all through," he hastens to add.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Themes are ‘in’!

Ushering in the fun-savvy Hyderabadis to a whole new world of entertainment, theme-based shops and bistros are fast becoming the in-thing...
A cluster of theme-based outlets are sprouting across the twin cities, providing breather to the ‘bored’ populace. Hitherto confined to movies, hotels, parks, ice-cream parlors and bakeries, the entertainment industry of late has its arms wide opened, ushering the public in a whole new world of futuristic interactive elements like gaming zones, music cafes, coffee shops, restros, multiplexes, etc… all aimed at creating a niche for themselves and move away from the ‘routine’ options!
The popular ones being Hard Rock Café, Zapak Gameplex, Xtreme Sports Bar, SVM Mall, The Chocolate Room, Little Italy, Aroma’s of China and La Café, to name a few.
When the world is sitting pretty on the edge of technology, nothing could be a better ‘entertaining’ alternative to gaming.Offering an impression for a lifetime, the SVM Mall (SVM@36) at Jubilee Hills and Zapak Gameplex (retail outlets at Sainikpuri and Marredpally) are found to be the favorite destinations for gamers in the city. “The two are the right places for the gaming freaks to congregate. Also perfect for national and international tournaments, these spaces are convenient to drop in and loot mazaa. This and lot more, without costing us a bomb,” wonders KV Aditya, a gaming enthusiast.
A live sports event while getting high on chilled beer is definitely heart stopping. How about engrossing with sports action while grooving to some foot-tapping music? Step in to Xtreme Sports Bar or Hall of Fame sports grill, which promise to unveil the ‘gaming freak’ in you. “Games and sports here are blended with stand up comedy shows and DJ nites that transport the visitors to a different world,” informs Ramya, the spokesperson of Xtreme Sports Bar.
An eat-out in the weekend is incomplete without a visit to Mainland China and Bowl O China, Little Italy at Kharkhana and Care Europa at Tar Bund (Italian food), Kairali at Gachibowli and Utupura at Banjara Hills (Kerala), Alfresco Outdoor Cuisine at Banjara Hills (Mangolian), Deori at Gachinowli (Mediterranean) and 4 Seasons at Tolichowki (Lebanese food).
“Right from décor and dressing to cutlery and background music, our restro reflects China in its very soul… winning us the Best Chinese Restaurant award this year at the Times Food Festival. More than the food, customers drop in here to feel the exclusive environs we dish out and get acquainted with the Chinese culture,” says Mayank Prasad, City Head, Aromas of China at City Center.
Probably, a reason why many of the hotels often organize events and rather open restros like the SYN at Taj Deccan (known for Sushis and cocktails), replicating a theme to draw in folks!

Coffee table meetings
A lot can happen over coffee. Hence, teens and the great majority are seen teeming at CCD, Barista, La Café, Café Rico, Fcafe & Lounge, Fruitway Coffe Shop, Café Europa and et al… drafting their future plans, discussing ventures or hanging around with buddies.  “I prefer meeting my clientele only at coffee shops since they dish out privacy apart from the best of coffees to sip on,” coins Radha Rani, a young entrepreneur.

The add-on to the list of these outlets is The Chocolate Room at Madhapur, Somajiguda, Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Srinagar Colony, which has many a sweet tooth go crazy for the assorted chocolate delicacies. “The very mention of the name of the store tickles my taste buds. The chocolate theme is obvious in the furnishings and interiors. I just love being here,” quips Dominic Savio Joseph, a chocolate aficionado.
Well, people prefer to loosen up after a day’s hard work. And every individual has his/her own way of unwinding the self. “However, since the Gen-Y these days are looking for variety to spice up their already droning lives, there is always scope for ‘something new’ to grab their attention. Hence, the businessmen are hunting for ‘themes’ to make a quick buck,” reasons Aditya Madala, an information specialist. Certainly, themes are here to stay!!!

Ash scores ‘zero’ for Raavan

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan may be still hot favorite of many a movie-buffs, but Hyderabadi moviemaker Mani Shankar gives a ‘zero’ for her performance in the much-hyped Raavan

A 100 for Junior Bachchan, 50 for Vikram and a perfect ‘zero’ for Aishwarya Rai! Well, we are not referring to the dimensions of these silver screen stars but the numbers scored by the lead actors of Raavan, in the school of Bollywood director Mani Shankar.

Mani Ratnam’s much-hyped flick didn’t live up to the expectations of critics. Neither did it go down well with the movie-buffs. However, a cross-section of audiences was seen raving over Ash who sizzled with her captivating performance in the film, thus drawing in more masses to the theatres, despite its ‘flop’ talk.

But, Hyderabadi director Mani Shankar, known for his off-beat films like Muqbir and 16th December, has taken everyone by surprise with his statement – “Ash is the only drawback of Raavan, while Abhi was outstanding as ‘Beera’. He gave his best shot and was much convincing when compared to Vikram!”

But Mani sir, you’re at least expected to give her pass marks if not a distinction, Ash being the beautiful better-half of one of your good friends in the industry! Coming to the other point, it’s undeniably true that only the Tamil version Raavanan (where Vikram played the lead) is drawing crowds to cinemas and making cash registers ringing when pitched against its Telugu and Hindi counterparts.

However, your verdict that ‘Mr. Perfectionist of South’ has delivered just a so-so performance (?) has left many a movie-buff and mediamen speechless (you direly need to watch Aparichit that won Vikram rave reviews from critics across the country!).

This is not all, readers! Mani was all praises for director Mani Ratnam for directing such a master piece, which he compared to the 1980 American release directed by Martin

Scorsese, Raging Bull that met the same fate as Raavan initially. “Raging Bull, after 10 years, was considered one of the top 100 best films ever made in the world. So would be the case with Raavan. Actually, the Indian audience have not upgraded to Mani Ratnam’s thinking process. Well, this is my point of view as a director!”

Well, our comments are reserved on this issue, Mr. Mani Shankar!

Saina turns bride!

In a role reversal of sorts, badminton sensation Saina Nehwal made heads turn as she sashayed down the ramp in heavy bridal outfits. “I’m a girl now, hope you liked it,” Saina giggled as she was chewing the fat with Hyderabad Journal. Read on...

Quite nervous and uncomfortable she appeared sashaying down the ramp in pink ‘velvet’ ghagra-choli and cuddling a red dupatta. But, world no.3 badminton star Saina Nehwal made it big on the final day of Hyderabad Fashion Week last week. Kudos to Gopichand for giving a green light on her branding at a fashion show; his decision was well-liked by all and the sundry.

The around-4.75 kg bridal wear that Saina showed off did draw accolades for its intricacy in designing and embellishments, but it was the sports star herself than any that won standing ovation for her daring judgment on being a show-stopper. “Designer Pallavi Jaipur made me just feel confident. It was amazing walking the ramp.”

 Now that she scored a ‘perfect 10’ for her debut as a bride on ramp, it was time to inquire about her tying a knot. “Let me play some more time for India. Moreover, I guess hardly anybody recognized me in this outfit, since they’re used to see me in jeans, trousers and tees. But, I’m enjoying these moments,” she sports a naughty smile.

 Asked what she feels about slipping into the shoes of models, Saina states, “Woah! I was tensed having been a fish out of water amongst them, but managed it somehow. Well, I do put on make-up for photo shoots, but was never into this whole lot of girly stuff. But, I’m a girl now. Hope you liked it!”

 Having hit the headlines recently for her astonishing performance, Saina appears in no hurry to scale to the top slot. “It is true that I’ve no competitors in India, but I’ve to face a tough fight outside. Also, now that Indians are recognizing the sport, there is a bright future for the players.”

 About her soaring brand value, Saina quips, “It’s all because of my performance. But I would never forget my roots because of the name and fame I get. I’m focused on my goals,” she sounds confident.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Celina's T-town dreams

"Wear your attitude since it makes you," model, actress and Femina Miss India Universe 2001 Celina Jaitley tosses in a suggestion for the Gen-N models, her blue eyes and infectious smile spilling over enough of it. Decked up prettily in a bridal outfit designed by Neeta Lulla, the screen scorcher floored the onlookers at the grand finale of Hyderabad Fashion Week on Friday.

"Today's youth is lacking in right attitude, thus leaving them fall behind in the rat race," she hastens to add when inquired why India is failing to sweep beauty pageants in the recent past.

Having hit the ramp after a long time, the svelte beauty is apparently all elated working with her dream designer Neeta Lulla, "because she is someone who is always looked up to and her work is admired. I'm really privileged branding her collection here. And, Hyderabad really has beautiful people. Hope it hogs the limelight soon."

Pat comes the reply when asked about her visit to the City of Nawabs yet again. "What I like most about Hyderabad is how clean and green the city is. Wish the other cities too take a cue from Hyderabad in maintaining themselves!"

Busy as usual with a few Bollywood and Mollywood projects in her kitty, the actress recently did a Kannada film and is desperately looking forward to tease the movie-buffs in Telugu and Tamil industries. "My Telugu debut was a disappointment, but this time, it won't be," she chirps.

Talk about competition and she quips, "The film industry is all about beautiful people. If we start competing, there's no fun anymore. Moreover, we all have our own identities and character; so there's hardly any scope for competition," she makes a point before signing off.