Thursday, 30 September 2010

‘I've evolved as an actor!'

Hitherto a ‘dream boy’ for the fairer sex and ‘style icon’ for the gentlemen, Prince Mahesh Babu will now be a household name, greeting his fans quite so often. What with the shy, private guy making a public appearance every other day announcing his endorsement deals and promotional events, Mahesh seems no more the unreachable crescent moon amidst the galaxy of stars.

After a tedious wait of three long years, the die-hard fans of Mahesh are exuberant and upbeat over watching their ‘screen idol’ groove to Manisharma’s melody, romance sexy Anuskha and sizzle in action sequences, in his latest flick Khaaleja slated for release on October 7. The Trivikram-Mahesh combo, after the blockbuster hit Athadu, has been driving the attention of all and sundry apart from the industry verticals.

Khaaleja sure will be one of the biggest hits in my career. The whole team is confident of its success irrespective of the hype and hoopla,” Mahesh quoted at the recent launch of UniverCell outlet in Himayatnagar. Now, Mahesh has Dookudu with director Srinu Vaitla that will be soon on the floors.

After Sony launched the film’s music over Internet a while ago, Mahesh’s son Gautam Krishna had launched the music CD at Radio Mirchi FM station. “We thought of keeping this a low key affair yet innovative. The response to the music has been overwhelming. Of all the six songs, Sada Siva… is my fav,” says Mahesh, known for maintaining a low profile all through.

The film has the Prince playing a loud, brash and funny (unlike his earlier roles) taxi driver and Anushka bringing him bad-luck every time she bounces upon him. “My performance in Khaaleja would sure be appreciated. Since the long break has seen the evolution of actor in me. Like earlier, I’ll be choosy about the characters I play. But now on, you will notice a different Mahesh in every performance,” the handsome hunk declares.

Sporting a new hairstyle and elegant look in Khaaleja, the Prince was quite charming off the screen, too. “Mamta Anand did the wonders. Namrata of course lent her hand. Don’t I look stunning,” Mahesh poses a question with a bewitching smile.

Now that his wife Namrata, in an interview, tagged him one of the finest actors even in Bollywood, was she hinting at his prospective entry into the B-town? “Oh no! Now I can’t think of anything beyond Telugu films (he is quite particular about referring to Tollywood as Telugu film industry),” the charming dude humbly replies.

The most active (and attractive) south star on Twitter has signed a two-year contract with Provogue, after the recent Amrutanjan campaign. In fact, Mahesh is endorsing maximum number of products compared to his contemporaries, which in deed speaks in volumes of his fan following and approach in the masses.

“Provogue is a coincidence and has nothing to do with Khaaleja promotion,” he makes the clouds clear. “Their creations are the best in the country and really excite me, which I make sure of before endorsing a product.” The screen-scorcher is as well looking forward to meet his fans through the brand, as was in the case of Thums Up and UniverCell. After films, endorsement is certainly the best means to stay closer to one’s admirers. And, Prince Mahesh Babu has struck the right chord!

Anjaana Anjaani in city

“Oh, I touched the chair he was sitting in…”

“I got the petals of the flowers he tossed in…”

“Yeppie, here’s a bit of the tee he threw…”

“Hurray! I could touch his jacket…”

“OMG! He shook my hand…”

These were a few of the remarks made by the frenzied young girls at Villa Marie College who were on a high when Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor flanked with actor Priyanka Chopra made a sizzling appearance at the institute, to partake in the ‘Happy Hyderabad’ campaign. The College premises reverberated with ‘We want Ranbir’ and ‘Love you Ranbir’ slogans as the handsome hunk showered flying kisses on the boisterous crowd.

Dressed prettily, the gorgeous girls went crazy at the sight of their heartthrob. They waved to him, cheered him and even jostled to capture the B-town sensation in their cameras. Appealing for peace and harmony in the wake of the Ayodhya verdict on the occasion, the celebs also promoted their latest flick Anjaana Anjaani.

Earlier, the actors inaugurated a signboard at the PVR Cinemas wherein they scribbled their last three wishes. The duo bowled over the fans present at the cinema not just with their style and substance but also their singing skills. “The ‘hatke’ storyline apart, our performances in this romantic comedy would get you glued to the seats,” Ranbir promised.

Despite years of training in acting school, Priyanka said, she learnt a lot from Ranbir who grew up watching his parents rise to the stardom. Though the film’s release coincides with the Ayodya verdict and the release of much-awaited blockbuster of the season, Rajini-starrer Robot, the screen idols expressed no concerns. “Ours is a small yet notable effort when pitched against Robot. The verdict of course, we believe, won’t hamper the jubilant mood of the movie-buffs!”

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Stylish interiors now for a song!

There's a magic in that little word, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits. - Robert Southey.

The aphorism is never a passe, irrespective of the revolutionary changes taking place across the globe, every passing day. Even as quick money and erratic lifestyles have their say in the lives of every individual in this day and age, the urbane folks are leaving no stone unturned to transform their 'sweet homes' to 'classy heavens'. After all, there's certainly nothing half as pleasant as coming home after sweating it the whole day!

And for this, all that one need is a taste in adding 'zing' to interiors and exteriors. Worry not! A rap session with the cluster of home decorators and design solutions companies multiplying by the day across the city would offer you complete and comprehensive solutions in this regard, which definitely won't burn a hole in your pockets. Time for a tiny, little curve on your lips!

For Ch Sivaram, adorning the home interiors was more of a dream until he bounced upon an interior designer. "I didn't want to part with more of cash.

Accordingly, the designer gave inputs on wall colors and patterns for each room. His directives on the aspects of lighting, co-lighting, placing of the furniture and et al served more like a final touch to enhancing the environs. My home now communicates," wonders this 30 years old software developer working with a multi-national company.

"Plush homes are no more an asset of those born with a silver spoon in their mouths. It did cost a bomb earlier. However, with the changing times, the common man too has developed passion towards design industry. Now, budget isn't a stumbling block in getting striking interiors and exteriors," wows Tripurana Sumalatha, a 3D animator working with Anim Graphics at Mahendra Hills.

While Sumalatha drafted the three-dimensional presentation of the interiors for their two-bedroom flat (800 sq ft) at Uppal, her better half Srinivas (a graphic designer himself) has picked the required stuff - right from wall paints and furniture to artifacts and lampshades. "The erstwhile 'somber' flat of ours has now got a makeover, all costing around Rs 1 lakh," Sumalatha is all smiles.

Not just homes but a face-lift to workplaces does its bit in spreading positive waves and make staff feel home. Thirty-five-year-old entrepreneur Vamsi Krishna says, "Like home, I believe office too reflects and inspires one's thoughts and ideas. And, decor helped me do wonders at my workplace. Paying attention to the minutest of details like curtains, wall hangings, stationery, doormats, window blinds, wallpapers and worktables has metamorphosed the whole ambiance. Now, working overtime isn't tiresome, neither for me nor my staff." Vamsi seems a content lot!

Needless to say, design industry is all about ideas. The practicality of aesthetically saving space in ordinance with Vaastu while sticking to the basic concept is vital in bringing out the magic of any structure. Above all, meeting the expectations of the clientele besides prioritizing their perspective and sentiments forms a major task for any designer. We believe 'freedom of thought is birth of creativity.

"Understanding colors and patterns and keeping the message simple are quite essential for an architect. Thus, we polish the taste of customers and help enhance their mood or reflect their thoughts in our works though creating an ambiance," chips in Hari Gopal Dutta, founder of ThinkXNtric design solutions at Jubilee Hills.

This one-stop shop for design solutions provides services in concept designing and development based on accuracy, quality, research and reliability. Popular in European countries, the concept of one-stop shop includes departments of design, R&D, execution and administration so as to offer whole services under a roof.

"Be it in the case of designing a house, office, restaurant or a hospital, an ample knowledge of indigenous market blended with global exposure and know-how does lend a hand for designers in keeping the cost low without compromising on quality," quips Pradeep Reddy, an architect with an interior decoration firm in Narayanaguda.

Never late! It's time to work on those shoddy interiors and exteriors, all for a song!

Time to bag pure gold

It's a low risk product and one of the best means of investment; an alternative instrument of saving, it has fair degree of liquidity; a valuable gift for any special occasion, it's an out-of-the-ordinary incentive for employees, too. Above all, it's the only entity women keep close to their hearts...

There you're! The dazzles of gold have been a part of our life for ages now, in a way or the other. Irrespective of it's price shooting up and reaching the skies every passing day. That's the following the glittery yellow metal has got among the populace.

The glittery entity, undoubtedly, helps us secure our future. However, the coin has the other side too - the increasing concern over its purity. And that's where banks come into the picture, our most trusted advisors in investments and savings.

Most of the banks (nationalized and private) these days offer sale of 24 karat 999.9 pure gold coins and ingots with 'Assay' certification from Switzerland and London, in the denominations of 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, 50 and 100 g (in round shape and rectangular bars). And, these have caught the fancy of the common man and investors alike. After all, quality matters!

"Minted at the refineries like PAMP and Castel San Pietro, these coins/ingots have the logo of the respective banks and are available in tamper-proof see-through certicard packs in order to avoid any damage or theft during transit," informs WP Rama Rao, Chief Manager, Andhra Bank, Lakdi-ka-pul.

Competitively charged on the daily prices of international bullion market price of gold and the US dollar, the banks also take into account the VAT, Sales Tax, Stamp Duty and Octroi in deciding upon the value of these gold coins/ingots. "No documents are required to purchase coins amounting to Rs 20,000-50,000; but identity proof is needed for those costing Rs 50,000 and above (non-customers). The price limit and process of payment, nevertheless, differ from each bank," Rama Rao adds.

Apart from nationalized ones like Andhra Bank, SBI, UBI, Bank of Baroda, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank and Indian Bank, private players including ICICI, HDFC, IndusInd and Axis are offering sales of gold coins/ingots under various schemes.

"Nowadays, getting unadulterated commodities has become pretty much impossible. Gold is no exception and we can't rely up on jewelers and showrooms all the time. However, banks are really serving the purpose through selling 24 K gold coins and ingots. It really made things easier for me - with regard to investments or getting loans," quotes one Chanduri Kamala, a Telecom employee and customer of a nationalized bank.

Not just the customers but also the outsiders can buy them, with discounts and special offers on bulk purchases. "Some corporates and individuals with a view to gift for occasions or offer as an incentives to staff, usually make bulk purchases, the orders for which need to be placed in advance," informs M Ravindra Babu, Manager, Bank of Baroda, Khairatabad. In this case, one can get logos, initials, emblems or symbols of Gods embossed on the coins/ingots bought at certain banks.

Also, selected banks (like Andhra Bank and Syndicate) offer loans on these coins/ingots like that on jewelry. The per-gram price of gold varies from each bank though. However, the banks don't repurchase the coins. They can be sold to any jeweler.

Be it SyndSona of Syndicate Bank and Swanra Mudra Scheme of Indian Bank or Mudra Gold bars of HDFC and Suvarna Mudra of IndusInd or Mohur Gold Coins/Ingots by Axis Bank... Now that the banks are all batting for 999.9 per cent pure gold, how about ensuring a handsome return over a period of time?

'Mine wasn't an easy win!'

After recording 8 tracks for his upcoming album by Sony BMG, Indian Idol 5 Sreeram Chandra is now busy juggling stage performances, playback singing and perfecting proficiency with a view to become a global celeb

Considering his track record in playback singing, stage/reality shows, was it a cakewalk for Sreeram Chandra Mynampati to win Indian Idol season 5? Well, the hoi polloi doesn't see eye to eye in this regard. It's a mixed yet warm response.

Nonetheless, the blue-eyed boy brushes it off saying, "Hailing from down south and winning the hearts of whole Indians was indeed an onus task. I believe my composure and expertise helped me in this regard." Expressing his gratitude to all Indians for paving way to his victory, Sreeram, however, retorts: "The other contestants had enough experience in stage shows, if not playback singing! It was quite a demanding job and definitely not an easy win!"

It took more than a week for Sreeram to sink in the truth that 'he finally is the Indian Idol 5'. For him, the whole journey was a 'sweet ordeal' - making friends, discovering one's strengths and weaknesses, keeping the competitive spirit up and above all, living up to the expectations of judges and people - that finally paid at the grand finale on Aug 15.

"Remember the blank reaction on my face while receiving the award from Amitabh Bachchan ji? I was speechless, too. I couldn't get out of the mood even during a brief sleep. But now, I'm through. It feels great, one-of-its-kind, top-of-the-world and on-cloud-nine to win the title. In fact, the real journey has begun now," Sreeram says with a glint of pride reflecting in his eyes.

The 24 years old Hyderabadi has already recorded a duet with ace Shreya Ghoshal for a Telugu film, one for Salim Merchant (one of the judges for the season) and chanced up on an opportunity to sing for Yash Raj's project (scheduled in a month).

"I've several shows lined up. But I'm concentrating on honing my skills. My five years of training in Carnatic classical, my knowledge in Hindustani and Western music isn't enough to become an international star, which I urge. So, now is the time for some planning unlike earlier," Sreeram acknowledges. "I want to give my best shot in every deed and be a better singer and person," he quips.

Crooning at a private do (his first performance in the city after winning the title), Sreeram was all praises for the Sony album, set for release in a couple of weeks. "Among the eight songs, I'm in love with the main track that goes like Rehanuma... It was penned by one Pinky and composed by Harpreet. Picturized in beautiful locations of Mumbai, the album is sure to mesmerize you all. Get ready for the magic," he guffaws.

And for all those eyeing the titles of reality singing shows or wanting a niche in playback singing, Sreeram strictly advises to "believe in self and get trained in classical music. Work on your negatives and be positive."

Monday, 6 September 2010

Cultural space for lease for a song!

The Lamakaan in Banjara Hills provides free space for conducting programs in literature, arts, theatre, debate and dialogue, thus offering a platform for artists, activists and thinkers to interact and grow

It's yours. Do what you will with it... boasts a luxurious house in the posh localities of Banjara Hills. Rented out to organize arts and cultural programs for free (!), the Lamkaan in the lane next to CBay building off Road No. 1 is more than a comprehensive space that pays deep respect for grass roots work. Not to be surprised!

Owned by documentary film-maker late M Hassan, the sibling of Urdu writer Padmasree Jilani Bhanu, the place was synonymous with mother for Hassan. "It shared the love and affection of Hassan and his memoirs. Hence, Ashar Farhan (Hassan's nephew) resolved to fulfill his uncle's dreams of making use of the house for good cause," informs Vemana, the manager of Lamakaan.

With the help of friend Biju Mathew, Farhan converted Lamakaan to a cultural space on March 13, thus paying tribute to his uncle. An abode to the homeless, as the name suggests, Lamakaan aims at facilitating free space to organize programs dealing with arts, literature, theatre, debate and dialogue.

The open space has a stage and a screen while the huge hall can accommodate around 150 people at a time. The guest room beside the hall helps the visitors get refreshed. The place has hosted about 35 events including ghazals, student seminars, workshops, expos, plays, documentaries and et al.

"The cafe serving Irani chai, Osmania biscuits and, hot and crispy samosas is the place where ideas are born and creativity sprouts, and ideal for book-reading. Also, we find it the best rendezvous to catch up with or make friends," quotes one Kanika Kathuria, a marketing executive.

A group of curators appointed for two years by the Lamakaan Trust, a non-profit entity, has absolute freedom to explore the space and create events within the limits of sources. This apart, the 'Open Mike Nights' held every second and fourth Thursdays of the month invites anyone to perform, recite or enact in a 20 minutes slot.

"We don't charge for performances. However, they're accessible either for free or through tickets costing a nominal amount," Vemana adds.

Corporate sponsors and commercial sponsorships are not accepted. Neither does the Trust take any margins or cuts from the sale of tickets or artists' works. However, the interested can send cheques addressed to the Lamakaan Trust or donate online through paypal to Lamakaan. Details over or or 9642731329. Email:

His passion knows no barriers

Into designing photo frameworks, Syam Narayana's collection includes original tunes and lyrics of the yesteryear's melodies in various languages apart from rarely found books, films and monographs of renowned personalities

The last three weeks have seen Syam Narayana bonding over innumerable phone calls and exhausting hours on browsing and mailing, day in and day out. "It's because of you guys," this owner of Right Angle photo frameworks shop at Ameerpet subtly points a finger at the media. Being journalists, our job demands it, while the overnight popularity has Syam Narayana give up on his sleep, at times, to consider the requests pouring in via cell phone and e-mail.

It's his leisure pursuit of collecting old songs and books that has garnered attention of many. "I'm not a celeb to get featured. Moreover, a chunk of folks I know own invaluable treasure than that I possess," he humbly turns down my appeal for a rap session; but changed his mind when I didn't give up.

Stockpiling around 20,000 songs from films (Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, English, Kannada, Bengali, Konkanai and other languages) released in 1920s and '50s... Ah! The very thought is awe-inspiring, isn't it? "I speak, read, write and understand only Telugu though. Nevertheless, love for music has no language barriers," he shrugs.

It all started when Syam Narayana was about 10 years old. "The lullabies by my aunts did influence me. The interest in music gradually developed into passion and then a hobby," he informs. A native of Firangipuram in Guntur district, Syam Narayana had quit the job with Animal Husbandry after he realized it isn't his cup of tea. "Six years of livelihood through meager tasks and I took to photo frameworks. I settled down in the city three years ago. However, the hobby continued."

More than the songs, it's the original tunes and lyrics of these songs that would for sure evoke interest among those obsessed with old melodies. The original track of 'Naa hridayamlo nidurinche cheli...' from ANR and Savitri-starrer Aradhana (1962) goes like 'Amar shopne dekha rajkonna thake...' from Bengali film Shagorika (1956). Wow, it's a ditto version!

The Tamil song, 'Malligai poo jati roja...' sung by Bala Saraswati (1954) in Raja En Kanmani sounds similar to one of the tracks in Spanish film La Violetera (1958). The tune of 'Maa mamayya vachchade...' crooned by Jikki in Mangala Sutram (1946) and that in Down Argentine Way (1940) are inspired from 'Mama Eu Quero...' rendered by Brazilian singer-actress Carmen Miranda in 1930s. And, the list goes on.

"I lost much in the process of digitizing the erstwhile gramophone record files and audio cassettes. Despite these efforts I realized recently, I had no tracks from Gundamma Katha. Don't you think I lag behind from others," he questions.

Going through the audio files (nearly 100) and scanned versions (even the 1844-published 'Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexandre Dumas!) of the works of Jules Verna, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Jonathan Swift and others is an amazing experience.

The over 500 films including the 1907, 1925 and 1959-released Ben-Hur, stage and radio plays, monographs on singers and music directors like Kundan Lal Saigal, Pankaj Malik, KC Dey, Salil Choudhury and Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and philosophical teachings by Chaganti, Ekkirala, Ushasri and et al takes everyone by surprise.

"I've donated tons of books written by the likes of Bhamidipati, Kodavadanti, Mullapudi, Srisri, Palagummi, etc. Space and money are a serious problem, after all," Syam Narayana rues, surfing data in his computer placed in the storeroom at his shop.

Syam Narayana can be contacted over +91 9849262600.