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Dubai-based singer Shweta Subram talks about ‘Jalebi Baby’ and its sweet success

Music|: Indian singer Shweta Subram, who was born and raised in Dubai, has earned a quirky moniker. She’s now called the ‘Jalebi Baby’ girl wherever she goes because her brassy and bold voice in Canadian singer Tesher’s catchy song has captured the imagination of music lovers across India and the world. The viral song rolled out on TikTok has been used in nearly four million videos and has been viewed more than 90 million times on YouTube. Even pop sensation Jason Derulo wants a piece of it, while celebrities such as Alia Bhatt were spotted dancing at her best friend’s wedding to ‘Jalebi Baby’. Actress Nora Fatehi cherry-picked ‘Jalebi Baby’ to show off her dance moves. “I don’t think either of us expected that kind of response … Usually you spend millions on music videos and it’s an expensive affair … But ‘Jalebi Baby’ was a lyrical video but the audiences have given us their verdict and we are loving it,” said Subram from her living room in her apartment at the Dubai Marina. Subram was a banker before the music bug bit her. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News She remembers recording the song at her dining table last October and sending it over to Tesher before it became a universal rage. The sweet success of ‘Jalebi Baby’ is proof that you don’t need frills if your song is catchy. Subram, who recently moved back to Dubai from Canada with her husband and her toddler to be closer to Mumbai (the epicentre of the Bollywood music industry), was a banker before the music bug bit her. Born to South Indian parents who valued education above all else, she’s armed with two degrees in psychology and economics. But to this singing sensation, the big, bad world of Bollywood felt more bewitching than clocking in hours at the fraud department at a bank. Here’s her take on … Being born in Dubai and moving from Canada to the UAE: “I was born and raised here. When I moved away from Dubai I felt I left a piece of myself in Dubai. This is a city where I want to live for the rest of my life … And ‘Jalebi Baby’ happened right here when I recorded my part on my dining table and sent it to Tesher … Honestly, my move to Dubai was prompted because Dubai is home for me. Making that shift to India from Canada might be a little difficult because living in India is a whole different ballgame, especially if you never lived there before. I have lived in Dubai and Canada all my life, so I am not sure if I am up for it. So let’s just one step at a time. Dubai is a hop, skip, and jump away from Mumbai. The idea was to be close to the Bollywood music fraternity and closer to Bollywood in general, where all the work happens.” Breaking into the Bollywood music industry: “It’s a very challenging journey. I’m not going to lie nor am I going to paint a rosy picture of it. It has been very tough because firstly you just have to know the ropes of the business and how things work. In the beginning, I thought it was all about talent, but being talented alone wasn’t the case. I remember going to Bombay and it was so important for me to network. Thousands can sing, but the important thing is about meeting the right people at the right place at the right time. It’s important that if you work on a project, you constantly message the team or go out for a cup of coffee or a drink. It helps in building that relationship and it often leads to more work.” Her biggest challenge: “Living outside in Canada… My first playback Bollywood debut was with Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Hawaizaada’ (2015) where I sang ‘Dil-e-Nadaan’. With him. I was literally at the airport in Canada on my way to India for a vacation when I got a call from his team saying that they watched my YouTube videos and offered me a song for his new film because my voice matched his requirements … Since I was already on my way to India, I almost walked into the studios for that audition. "In less than 12 hours, I found out that my voice was going to make it to the song. It was an unbelievable surreal experience. After that project, many told me that the wise thing to do is actually to stay back in Bombay … But I went back to Canada. Come to think of it, I am a little spoilt because even though I didn’t shift to India, I got a lot of opportunities. But I would have done a lot more work if I had shifted to India.” ‘Jalebi Baby’ going viral: “I don’t relish eating jalebis, but the song is a different story altogether. It went viral, exploded, and began trending during the lockdown. A week before Diwali, my friend just mentioned Tesher, a fellow Canadian singer who’s doing pretty well, and his song ‘Young Shah Rukh’. I was surprised that I didn’t know him even though we belong to the same music industry. I felt a little ashamed and set out to find out who Tesher is. I went to his Instagram, realised that he has done some cool work, and congratulated him. "He was sweet enough to write back and told me that he has gone through my work and he was working on a project called ‘Jalebi Baby’. He was looking for my kind of voice in terms of texture and tonality and asked me to give the song a shot. Thanks to technology, I was sitting here on this dining table and I just recorded my bits. He came back saying he’s using my vocals … Three weeks later, a friend of mine brought it to my attention that this song was exploding on Instagram and social media.” "I don’t mind rejection because with rejection you grow if you look at it objectively," the singer said. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News On millions streaming the song: “I don’t keep a tab honestly because I am not much into the number game. I am not obsessed with how many likes or followers I have on Instagram or Facebook … On a side note, I see many youngsters getting depressed if they don’t hit the million followers mark. It’s worrying. I don’t seek validation from followers, but I get a lot of validation from my fans and supporters who write to me.” Bollywood being hostile to outsiders: “I don’t have a straightforward answer to that because I have seen outsiders who are doing pretty well right now. Perhaps, that can be attributed to the power of social media. I have found that Bollywood is very welcoming towards talents with a huge amount of followers on social media … I am not saying that they don’t look at talent, but having an army of followers matters. Packaging matters and sometimes talent can be overlooked … Fortunately, I haven’t experienced hostility. "But what irks me is the lack of professionalism … I was speaking to a fellow singer recent and he was talking about how disturbing it can get … There’s a well-renowned music director who records the same song with 10 singers … In the end, he just listens to those 10 singers and says which voice does it for him and which doesn’t. It’s very disheartening because each singer goes in thinking that his or her voice is going to be on that big-budget Bollywood blockbuster. They don’t even get a call on whether their song will be used for the film or not.” Facing rejection: “I don’t mind rejection because with rejection you grow if you look at it objectively. But what irks me is the lack of professionalism and communication … I am not sure if I will handle that. I come from a working culture where the level of professionalism is on a whole new level … Many songs of Indian singers are being played on millions of radio stations but the artist cannot show a single penny for it.” Her biggest mentor: Sonu Nigam. Image Credit: GN Archives “Sonu Nigam ji. A few years ago, he came across my work and shared my original song ‘Rasiya’. I remember sending him an email about it, without expecting a reply from him. But he sent back a detailed response on what he loved about the song. The next day, I woke up to him sharing that song on his [Facebook] page, and then he even called me to perform with him on his tour to the US. He’s been a constant mentor and even now if I have a question about music, I send him voice notes.”

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New series ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’ mines the everyday for comedy

TV|: There’s something to be said about finding the humour in everyday situations. And comedians Dan Perlman and Kevin Iso have brought it down to a science with their half-hour comedy series, ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’. Having met in the comedy circuit as stand-up comedians, Perlman and Iso immediately hit it off. In 2014, they started posting a series of sketches called ‘Moderately Funny’ on YouTube, before going on to create three episodes of the web series ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’. The series garnered some praise and awards at film festivals, which in turn caught the attention of Showtime, turning the web series into a full-fledged series, now streaming on StarzPlay in the UAE. In ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’, Perlman and Iso play characters struggling to thrive in their new surroundings in the brash environment of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Bold, smart and grounded in authenticity, the show explores two longtime friends seeking to climb out of their heads and connect with others. (L-R): Kevin Iso as Kevin and Dan Perlman as Dan in FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, “bad connection’”. Photo Credit: Francisco Roman/SHOWTIME. Image Credit: StarzPlay In a chat over Zoom, Gulf News caught up with Perlman to discuss the duo’s journey and some of the inspiration behind their comedy. Excerpts follow: How did the idea of ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’ come about? My friend Kevin and I co-created the show. We were making comedy sketches together originally. You know, just like short videos, we were about starting out and stand up. And we met doing open mics in New York, as you know, just both starting out in comedy, and we wanted to make some videos. So we just made some short sketches. But then we found ourselves returning to the same kinds of characters, themes and we were working with the same comedians over and over again. So we eventually just wanted to make something a little more narrative, and wanted to make something independently, that we could shoot ourselves. We just wanted it to feel raw and natural and real and just a little more authentic. So that so it wouldn’t feel like joke, joke, joke, joke [and] joke. So that’s how we made the web series initially. How would you describe the show to someone who’s never heard about it yet? I guess it’s a tricky show to describe, but we like to think of it as more real or natural than just a sitcom. So it’s a very grounded comedy that hopefully reminds you of people that you’ve met. And it’s a comedy about a neighbourhood and a group of people who all coexist while doing their own thing. They all have their own wants and needs, and they’re all stepping on each other and bumping into each other. And it’s maybe a very honest or natural depiction of New York in a very organically diverse way that you don’t ordinarily see. And there’s good jokes! Kareem Green and Dan Perlman. Image Credit: StarzPlay So Flatbush is a neighbourhood in New York. Can you tell us a little bit about it for our readers back here in Dubai, So we have some cultural context about the place? It’s a very historic neighbourhood in Brooklyn, and one that has not been really represented much in TV or film. Like now, it’s a very Caribbean community. Before that, it was a largely Jewish community. The Brooklyn Dodgers played there before they move to Los Angeles. It was a farming community before that. So it’s a neighbourhood that is very rich in its history. And its architecture: there are a lot of T-shaped streets where — so, the very cool thing about Flatbush is you can be on one street and all the houses and blocks are one way. And then you walk two blocks, and it feels like you’re in a totally different neighbourhood and you walk two blocks another way, and you’re on a street with a lot of dollar stores and shops and stuff. And it’s all very bustling and energised. Another street, it’s way more residential and quiet. And it’s all in this very small radius. So it sort of lends itself to storytelling that has like a richness in character. And it’s very different than the New York that you see in a lot of other shows, which often show way more whitewashed depictions of New York. We shot it all during COVID. When we started filming, people weren’t even vaccinated yet. So, you know, we were tested three times a week and you kind of get used to the routine of it. And then you just adjust around it. Comedian Dan Perlman You and Kevin worked on the show together. What can you tell us about your work dynamic? When you work with someone for a long time, you kind of you get a sense of how they each work. And the reason we started working together is because we are complimentary in terms of our energies. We’re both probably a little more subtle in our energies and performances and stuff. So I think our energies vibe in that way. But then also, we’re not the same. So, I think, the push and pull of our different instincts has always brought the show to a cool and creative place. How did you and Kevin originally meet? Doing open mics in New York City. So when you start out, doing stand up, you go and sign up and do two or three minutes for other new and uninterested comedians who just stare blankly at you. And so, Kevin and I met at one of those and started talking. And there’s a lot of people, you talk to them and they’re like, ‘Oh, we should do something, we should film something, we should make something,’ but then they’re maybe not as driven to actually do it. But Kevin was the first person I met who shared that same drive to just make stuff even if we don’t quite know what we’re doing yet. Dan Perlman as Dan in FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, “dub’”. Photo Credit: Francisco Roman/SHOWTIME. Image Credit: StarzPlay Where there any other shows that inspired you in terms of content and theme? Kevin and I both have talked about this. There was an old Nickelodeon cartoon when we were kids called ‘Hey Arnold’. It’s obviously super different from the show, but there’s an interesting kind of parallel, you know, a neighbourhood, a community of people. One thing we tried to do is, every time you see a character, you might learn something new about them. ‘Hey Arnold’ did that very well, especially for a kid’s cartoon. And there was kind of an interestingly melancholic feel and pace to the cartoon that was a little different from the rapid fire nature that a lot of sitcoms have. And it felt very lived in. And so that was the one we talked about a lot. Was the show fully shot in New York? And did COVID impact the show at? Yeah, totally shot in New York. And, I mean, it definitely impacted the show. We shot it all during COVID. When we started filming, people weren’t even vaccinated yet. So, you know, we were tested three times a week and you kind of get used to the routine of it. And then you just adjust around it. So if we’re writing a big protest scene, we’re like, ‘Okay, well, I guess it’s a small protest now,’ because there’s just only a certain amount of people you can sort of have. It’s like, alright, well, how do we still tell the story we’re trying to tell? Does COVID ever get mentioned in the show itself? No, no, it’s not part of the show. I guess we talked about it, initially. But two things [stopped us]. One, it’s incredibly sad. And I definitely don’t want to watch people in masks. We’ve lived it for too long. It was so all encompassing, and it took over our lives that there was not really a way to sort of deal with it without it becoming everything. You know what I mean? Like, how do you incorporate it without it becoming fully all consumed? Dan Perlman as Dan in FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, “dub’”. Photo Credit: Francisco Roman/SHOWTIME. Image Credit: StarzPlay What were your biggest learnings from creating ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’? The coolest thing for me was just how addictive and funny every other department is and how collaborative it is to create a show like this. When you hear award speeches and they’re mentioning all these names, and you’re like they’re going on a while, but you really do want to mention like everybody’s name, who sort of created the show. Our whole production design team was just so amazing. And so funny, and, and the costume department and the props department, you know, like, on and on. You learn how you can find jokes in the specificity of every different department and how people were not just great at their jobs, but also funny in those positions. It makes you better as a writer because then you go into the writing of the next stuff with more of that in your mind and of ways to sort of, find these jokes and all these different specific things. That was just a really cool experience. Don’t miss it! ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’ is now streaming on StarzPlay.

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Bollywood: Sushant Singh Rajput tribute film to release after Delhi court denies stay

BollyWood|: The Delhi High Court has again denied a stay on the movie ‘Nyay The Justice’ based on Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. Advocate Vikas Singh battled for an injunction however the judge said no relief was granted to Rajput and hence the film is ready for release. ‘Nyay The Justice’ is written and directed by Dilip Gulati, produced by Sarla A Saraogi and Rahul Sharma. “We believed justice would be served through the system and we are very happy with the verdict. We have always mentioned that this film is not being made to ride on the events and make money, but we wanted the truth to come out and justice being served,” producer Rahul Sharma told IANS. Read more Bollywood: Sushant Singh Rajput’s father told by court to negotiate with director over movie Bollywood: Court rejects father's plea to prevent films about late actor Sushant Singh Rajput Sushant Singh Rajput’s sister appeals to Wikipedia to get details of late Bollywood star's death changed He added that the film will release once theatres are reopened. The film stars Zuber Khan as Mahendra Singh (the character based on Rajput) and Shreya Shukla as his girlfriend Urvashi (based on Rhea Chakraborty). The movie also stars Aman Verma, Asrani, Shakti Kapoor and Kiran Kumar, among others. Sushant Singh Rajput was found hanging at his home in Mumbai on June 14, 2020. Image Credit: Gulf News archive In June, a court dismissed a petition filed by Rajput’s father asking for a stay on the release of a number of films based on the life and likeness of his son. Rajput was found hanging at his home in Mumbai on June 14, 2020. He was 34. His father Krishna Kishore Singh claimed the movies were shot without the family’s consent. “Defendants (filmmakers), taking advantage of the situation, have been trying to encash this opportunity... plays, movies, web-series, books, interviews or other material may be published which would harm the reputation of the son of the plaintiff and his family,” his petition read. The Delhi High Court later suggested that Rajput’s father and the filmmaker of ‘Nyay: The Justice’ resolve matter outside the courtroom.

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Watch: Trailer for Tamil anthology ‘Navarasa’ showcases gritty stories

The trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Tamil anthology ‘Navarasa’ is out and promises audiences nine intriguing stories that aren’t your typical commercial fare. The project created by iconic filmmaker Mani Ratnam and director Jayendra Panchapakesan will premiere on Netflix on August 6 and features an all-star cast. Famous faces from South Indian cinema that feature in the anthology include Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Arvind Swami, Siddharth, Prakash Raj, Revathy and Nithya Menen. Vijay Sethupathi in 'Navarasa' Image Credit: YouTube According to reports, the cast and crew have worked on the project for free, and profits from it will be donated to members of the Film Employees Federation of South India that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The anthology is formed by nine short films based on the nine ‘rasas’ or human emotions — anger, compassion, courage, disgust, fear, laughter, love, peace and wonder. Talking about the anthology, Ratnam said, “Emotions may be momentary but some of those moments stay with us for life. Emotions are part of every day of our lives and yet some of these can change the course of our lives. This is what makes ‘Navarasa’ interesting. Though at most times there is more than one emotion in play, often it is one that takes control of our mind and soul and spurs us into action. ‘Navarasa’ is a collection of nine stories born out of nine such emotions. Some of these pivot in a moment. Some take shape from deep-rooted feelings. ‘Navarasa’ showcases them all.” Opening up about how the project is meant to help workers, Panchapakesan added: “We are extremely happy and proud of our colleagues in the industry, directors, actors and technicians, who have created engaging, exciting stories from these nine emotions or the classical ‘rasas’. We are sure viewers across the globe will enjoy and celebrate this confluence of ‘rasas’.” The nine short films are directed by Arvind Swami, Bejoy Nambiar, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Karthik Subbaraj, Karthick Naren, Priyadarshan, Rathindran R Prasad, Sarjun and Vasanth S Sai. Composers including AR Rahman, D Imman and Ghibran have also worked on the project. — With inputs from IANS

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Kanye West living at Atlanta stadium to finish album

Music|: Someone get the producers of the new ‘MTV Cribs’ reboot on the phone. The Los Angeles Times confirmed Monday that Kanye West is living inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium after hosting a listening party there last week for his forthcoming album, ‘Donda.’ TMZ first reported that the rapper has moved into the venue, where his team has set up living space, a recording studio and a personal chef for West as he completes his highly anticipated 10th studio album. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is seen on Monday, July 26, 2021, in Atlanta. Image Credit: AP On Saturday, the ‘Stronger’ hit maker was photographed attending an Atlanta United football game at the stadium, donning the same fire-engine red coat and tinted ski mask he wore during his Thursday performance. The perplexing images left some wondering why West seemed to stay in the same location (and outfit?) since premiering his new music. On Thursday, the ‘Heartless’ artist debuted more than a dozen tracks off his latest album, which is tentatively set for a delayed August 6 release, TMZ reported. The show, which was live-streamed on Apple Music, included several songs addressing his ongoing divorce from mega-influencer Kim Kardashian, with whom he shares four young children. Kardashian and the kids were reportedly present at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the preview of ‘Donda,’ which features collaborations with a number of West’s peers, including Lil Baby, Pusha T, Playboi Carti, Roddy Ricch, Travis Scott and even on-again-off-again pal Jay-Z. Read more Kanye West teases new music ahead of ‘Donda’ album release Kim Kardashian attends Kanye West’s album event amid divorce Despite divorce, Kim Kardashian says she is Kanye West’s biggest fan Originally scheduled to launch on streaming last week, ‘Donda’ is named after West’s mother, who died in 2007 following complications from surgery. Her voice is sampled on the album via spoken-word interludes musing on her son’s larger-than-life legacy and the power of unconditional love. The upcoming release of ‘Donda’ comes about two years after West’s most recent studio effort, ‘Jesus Is King,’ which debuted atop Billboard’s 200, rap and gospel album charts and took home the 2021 Grammy for contemporary Christian album. In addition to building on his public religious awakening, ‘Donda’ also references the emcee’s controversial support of former President Donald Trump. (One lyric from Jay-Z advises West to “stop all of that red cap,” referring to the infamous merch worn by Trump’s supporters.) TMZ did not specify whether West will be adding new tracks to the album following his Atlanta residency, or if he is simply putting finishing touches on the tunes he teased last week.

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Raj Kundra arrest: Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband sent to judicial custody for 14 days

BollyWood|: Raj Kundra has been sent to a 14-day judicial custody following a High Court hearing that took place earlier today. His aide Ryan Thorpe has also been handed down the same decision. The businessman’s lawyer has stated he will be moving the High Court for bail, with a hearing for the bail application scheduled to take place tomorrow, on July 28. Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra Image Credit: AFP Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s husband has been held in remand since July 19 following his alleged links to a pornography racket in India where he is under investigation for filming and distributing adult content through mobile apps, the Hotshot app in particular. Kundra, 45, was arrested by the police on along with 11 other people on charges related to the case. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Crime Branch has separately appointed a financial auditor to probe the money trail of Kundra and his celebrity wife and their alleged involvement in the pornography racket case. Yesterday, their joint bank accounts in the city of Kanpur were also seized. Read more Raj Kundra arrest: A look at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband, the pornography racket and whether this is his first brush with the law Raj Kundra arrest: Erotica is not porn, claims Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty “This too shall pass”: Shilpa Shetty’s sister Shamita supports Bollywood star over Raj Kundra arrest Sources told ANI earlier that the police is also probing whether money earned from the apps was being invested in bitcoins by Kundra. The charges Kundra is currently facing including Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.

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Bollywood star Kriti Sanon’s Netflix film ‘Mimi’ has an early delivery

BollyWood|: Kriti Sanon and the makers of ‘Mimi’ surprised fans yesterday during an Instagram Live when they announced the film would release four days earlier than planned. In a four-way chat that included Sanon, along with actor Pankaj Tripathi, director Laxman Utekar and producer Dinesh Vijan of Maddock Films, the makers said they are rolling out the Netflix film for an early delivery with fans to coincide with the lead star’s birthday. Sanon turns 31 today. Sanon herself appeared surprised by the news, but took it in her stride. The actress carries the film on her slim shoulders playing an aspiring actress who agrees to be a surrogate for a tourist couple only to be left holding the baby when the biological parents change their mind. Unfortunately for the makers, news of the film’s early release also coincided with reports that ‘Mimi’ had been leaked online and was being circulated on pirated sites in a similar manner to what Salman Khan had to endure with his Zee5 release, ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’. While the news has been a setback for the production team, Sanon is being lauded by critics and fans in the early reviews of the film. For the actress, this is the first film where she is sole lead, minus a Bollywood quintessential hero to carry the film to the masses. ‘Mimi’ is actually the official remake of Samroudhhi Porey’s Indian National Award-winning Marathi film ‘Mala Aai Vhhaychy!’ (2011). Kriti Sanon in 'Mimi' Image Credit: Maddock Films Sanon had to put on 15 kilos to play the role when her character enters her third trimester of her pregnancy and the director Utekar was insistent that the lead should look the part for the film. ‘Mimi’ also features Manoj Pahwa, Sai Tamhankar and Supriya Pathak in pivotal roles. Aside from this project, Sanon has a list of films in the pipeline, including ‘Adipurush’ with Prabhas and Saif Ali Khan, ‘Bachchan Pandey’ with Akshay Kumar, ‘Bhediya’ with Varun Dhawan, ‘Ganapath’ with Tiger Shroff, ‘Hum Do Hamaare Do’, along with another unannounced project.

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‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ comes to Dubai's The Junction

Straining against the rigid steel grid of society can only culminate in one of two things: total submission or absolute abandon. Often the latter comes with wry humour, a jab at the manacles that tried to constrain, to capture, to stop you in your tracks. For playwright Oscar Wilde, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was just such an outlet, a play of wit that poked fun at the Victorian bindings that he tried to break free of. The production takes flight once again at The Junction on July 30-31, this time directed by UAE theatre veteran Sabiha Majgaonkar. Majgaonkar explains the choice of show: "This Oscar Wilde play is powered by Orb Events and is a fun roller coaster ride that will leave you in splits. In the struggling times of COVID, we thought a comedy on absurdities of the Victorian times would be a great way to let down the guard, relax and indulge in some mindless laughter." The farcical play follows the lives of two brothers, each of whom create alter egos named Earnest, then win the hearts of two women who claim to love Earnest. Identity mix-ups followed by confusion about birth status create a Gordian knot that the actors then must attempt to untie. The result is a comedy that calls for the belching out of laughter. Don’t Miss It! Tickets to see Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ at the Junction on July 30-31 at 3.30 and 7.30 start at Dh75. Doors open half an hour before the show.

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Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut thanks court for dismissing Javed Akhtar’s plea

BollyWood|: Kangana Ranaut has thanked the Mumbai High Court for refusing lyricist Javed Akhtar’s plea that claimed the Bollywood actress used fraudulent means to get her passport renewed. “Movie mafia trying to prove there is no harassment of any outsider at all by openly and shamelessly harassing an outside ..... Thank you Bombay HC,” Ranaut posted on her Instagram Stories. Akhtar’s lawyer had filed an intervention application and said Ranaut’s claim that she had no criminal cases against her was “false and misleading”. “A fraud has been played on the court for passport renewal,” advocate Vrinda Grover claimed. Earlier in June, Ranaut had trouble getting her passport renewed due to a First Instance Report or FIR that was filed against her by casting director and fitness trainer Munawar Ali Sayyed. The actress, who was due to travel to Hungary to shoot for ‘Dhaakad’, then moved to Bombay High Court in the case and eventually got her passport renewed. Read more Bollywood: Kangana Ranaut moves Bombay High Court against Javed Akhtar’s defamation case Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut gets court summons in Javed Akhtar defamation case Bollywood: Mumbai court dismisses Kangana's plea over Javed Akhtar defamation suit Akhtar also has a case against Ranaut for defamation. However, the bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar refused to hear his petition. “If we allow your intervention then why not 100 others or 1,000 others. Who is the informant? You are not the informant. The state is there. You have no right to intervene,” said Justice Shinde.

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Britney Spears’ lawyer seeks to remove father as conservator

HollyWood|: Freedom might be right around the corner for Britney Spears. Her newly appointed lawyer on Monday filed a petition with a Los Angeles court to have the singer’s father removed as her conservator. Mathew Rosengart alleged in the filing that Jamie Spears, who has had control of his daughter’s estimated $60 million estate for over a decade, took advantage of the legal arrangement and “dissipated” funds; Jamie allegedly pays himself $16,000 per month as compensation from Britney’s estate. Rosengart requested that Jamie be replaced with certified public accountant Jason Rubin to oversee the singer’s finances. Spears' attorney Mathew Rosengart. Image Credit: Reuters In the legal document, the lawyer called the conservatorship a “Kafkaesque nightmare” that had grown “increasingly toxic and is simply no longer tenable.” The matter will be discussed at a hearing on September 29, Judge Brenda Penny said. Britney, 39, was placed under a court-ordered conservatorship that controls her personal and financial affairs in 2008 after she suffered a mental health breakdown. Read more Britney Spears’ conservator accuses Jamie Spears of using over $2m of singer’s funds Britney Spears called 911 before conservatorship case Judge denies Britney Spears’ request to remove father from conservatorship Britney Spears hits back at sister Jamie Lynn, father Jamie and online trolls This year was the first time the ‘Stronger’ singer publicly addressed the toll the guardianship had taken on her, telling the court in June that she was not allowed to remove her IUD method of birth control, prevented from driving on her own and was made to take mind-altering medication. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life,” she told the judge over the phone call that was made public. However, Jamie has claimed that his many of Britney’s claims are untrue and that he cares for her.

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Bombay High Court to hear Raj Kundra's bail plea

BollyWood|: Pornography case: Bombay HC to hear Raj Kundra's bail plea today Mumbai: Bombay High Court will be hearing Shilpa Shetty's husband and businessman Raj Kundra's plea challenging police custody and seeking bail on Tuesday in connection with pornography racket. His police custody in the case ends today. Kundra, 45, was arrested by the police on July 19 along with 11 other people on charges related to the alleged creation of pornographic films. Meanwhile, Crime Branch has appointed a financial auditor to probe the money trail of Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty and their alleged involvement in the pornography racket case. "In the investigation, the Crime Branch has found transactions worth crores were done from the joint account of Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra. The Crime Branch suspects that the earnings from 'Hotshots' and 'Bolly Fame' app used to come into this account," said the sources. They added that police is also probing whether money earned from the apps was being invested in bitcoins. Earlier on Sunday, police had informed that four employees of Kundra have turned witnesses against him in the pornography racket case, increasing troubles for him. Kundra has been named as the key conspirator by the Mumbai Police which has slapped charges against him under Sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.

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‘Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins’ movie review: Henry Golding is in fine form as action hero

HollyWood|: ‘G. I. Joe’ fans finally get an extended look behind the mask of their favourite ninja and, thank goodness, he’s Asian. If nothing else, the franchise would deserve serious credit for shrugging off the grand old tradition of cultural erasure; as a butter-on-your-popcorn bonus, “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” has some fun as well. The resident ninja of the good-guy military unit known as the “Joes,” Snake Eyes has rarely been shown in the toy-comic-cartoon-movie franchise without his iconic black mask. On such occasions, he has been depicted as blond and blue-eyed … as one would imagine most ninjas to be? In the previous films, he was played by the brilliant physical performer Ray Park (best known as Darth Maul of “Star Wars”) and “Kickin’ It” star Leo Howard. Here, he’s played as an Asian American boy by Max Archibald (“The 100”) and as a man by Henry Golding (the Malaysian-British star of “Crazy Rich Asians”). Larry Hama, the Asian American writer and artist who created the popular comic book “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,” said in the new film’s promotional materials he was once asked by a young Asian American fan “why the most badass ninja in the world is a white guy,” and it stuck with him. The new film thankfully obviates that question. Andrew Koji plays Tommy/Storm Shadow, Haruka Abe plays Akiko and Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP As the movie’s set before Snake Eyes stopped talking (either by vow of silence or combat injury, depending on the origin version), the character will come across as downright gabby to longtime fans. He starts as a boy witnessing his father’s murder, then shows up as a grown, scrappy loner on the no-holds-barred-fighting circuit calling himself “Snake Eyes.” The movie feels more like a yakuza picture than something from the previously established “G.I. Joe” franchise, which is something of a relief as well. Magnetic Takehiro Hira (so good in “Lost Girls and Love Hotels” and who really needs to be cast as Ken Watanabe’s son or brother in something) plays Japanese crime boss Kenta. He recruits Snake Eyes to join the bad guys for a very special role. Kenta’s rival, Tomisaburo Arashikage (“Warrior’s” Andrew Koji, a compelling fighter), attempts an assassination and Snake switches sides. Tomi is heir apparent to the Arashikage clan — good guys who’ve been defending Japan for hundreds of years. He asks his new AsianAmerican brawler friend to undergo ninja training and join them, and Snake naturally accepts, what the heck. What follows are betrayals, quests and an ultimate weapon that will remind viewers of recent blockbuster cinema of a certain set of stones. The action looks great when we can see it. Director Robert Schwentke (of the “Divergent” franchise) unfortunately chose to capture much of it in quick-cut, jolted-camera close-ups, diluting the blows’ power rather than enhancing their impact. What we can make out is impressive, especially with the high-level swordplay and the all-too-limited appearance of Iko Uwais as Hard Master (make your own jokes here). In brief screen time, Uwais shows again why he’s one of cinema’s top martial arts stars. Takehiro Hira plays Kenta and Andrew Koji plays Tommy/Storm Shadow in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP There are over-the-top VFX scenes that fit right in with previous “G.I. Joe” movies as well, such as the car chase/swordfight featured in the trailer, and an entertaining sequence that could be described as Snake auditionin’ for the House of Slitherin’. This completely rethought origin story still leaves some important blanks empty — How did this orphaned kid become such a great fighter? Did he really only need three weeks of ninja training to master those mysterious arts? — but unquestionably adds dimension to one of the franchise’s most popular characters. That’s not to say there’s much in the way of character development. After all, it is a G.I. Joe movie based on the toy line and cartoon-and-comic franchise; subtlety likely wasn’t a watchword in the writers’ room (unlike, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which character development is paramount). Exactly who Snake Eyes is, beyond a helluva fighter bent on avenging his father’s murder, remains unexplored. That failure to engage us deeply in the story’s humans can make the film drag between swordfights. That said, despite happily recasting the protagonist’s ethnicity and dumping his commando past, the movie includes plenty of elements that will please fans. It’s also an origin story for Tomisaburo, or Storm Shadow — the prominent hero/villain and blood brother to Snake Eyes. The film is largely about their relationship. Other “G.I. Joe” characters such as The Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) are reintroduced or reinvented, and the talented, versatile and chronically underutilised Samara Weaving shows up as Scarlett, whom fans know will be an extremely important figure in Snake Eyes’ life. Though it couldn’t have augured well for fans that the film’s titling convention hearkens to the widely reviled Fox-Marvel “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” ends up having enough good-time action sequences to make it worth the popcorn money. That’s just how it rolls. Don’t miss it! ‘Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins’ is now showing in UAE cinemas. Andrew Koji plays Tommy/Storm Shadow and Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes and Samara Weaving plays Scarlett in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP Andrew Koji plays Tommy/Storm Shadow in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP Takehiro Hira plays Kenta in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance. Image Credit: AP

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Venice film festival: Kristen Stewart’s turn as Princess Diana part of line-up

HollyWood|: Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’, Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Parallel Mothers’ and Kristen Stewart’s turn as Princess Diana in ‘Spencer’ are among the titles vying for the top prize at this year’s Venice film festival, which runs September 1-11. The world’s oldest film festival, regarded as a showcase for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, hopes to welcome back Hollywood celebrities this year after a scaled-down 2020 edition. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Image Credit: Reuters New Zealand filmmaker Campion, known for ‘The Piano’, will present her drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a sadistic ranch owner who launches a campaign against a young widow, interpreted by Kirsten Dunst, in 1920s Montana. A Netflix production, ‘The Power of The Dog’ had been invited to screen out of competition at the Cannes festival but opted instead for Venice, which unlike its French rival does not demand a theatrical release for films vying for the top prize. Spain’s Almodovar reunites with one his favourite actresses, Penelope Cruz, in ‘Parallel Mothers’, while ‘Spencer’, by Chilean director Pablo Larrain, film centres on a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana decided to separate from Prince Charles. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Image Credit: Reuters They are among 21 films in the main competition, which include Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut ‘The Lost Daughter’, based on an Elena Ferrante novel, and the ‘The Hand of God’ by Paolo Sorrentino — one of five Italian titles seeking to scoop up the Golden Lion top award. Ridley Scott’s medieval epic ‘The Last Duel’, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck, and Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated science-fiction tale ‘Dune’, with Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, will both premiere in Venice out-of-competition. Festival director Alberto Barbera hailed the return to the Lido waterfront “of US studios and of A-list stars who last year were a little wanting”. He told a virtual news conference the quality of films this year was higher than usual, and the line-up featured several films lasting three hours or more, some disturbingly violent scenes and many stories with strong women characters. “It’s as if the pandemic helped stimulate creativity all around,” he said. With contagion rates on the rise again, anti-COVID restrictions imposed last year will remain in place, including the capacity of festival theatres which has been halved to 4,000 viewers.

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Bollywood: Singers Armaan and Amaal Malik share grief over death of grandmother

BollyWood|: Bollywood singers and brothers Armaan and Amaal Malik have shared heartfelt tributes to their beloved grandmother Bilquis Malik, who died on Sunday at the age of 86. “Lost my best friend today… my dadijaan. The light of my life. I still cannot process this loss,” Armaan wrote on Instagram alongside videos and pictures with his grandmother. “A void I know nobody can fill. You were the cutest, the most precious human being ever. I am so grateful that I got so much time with you and got all your love, hugs and kisses. Allah my angel is now with you.” His older brother Amaal also took to Instagram to write an emotional account of performing his grandmother’s funeral rites. “It was the most difficult task of my life to bury you with my own hands today. I cried hopelessly for a last hug, but you had already gone. You wanted to be buried right next to your husband and I’m glad we could make that happen,” he wrote, adding, “You will live within us till the end. The OG Malik has left us.” Singer-songwriter Armaan, renowned for his romantic songs, was recently in the news for his collaboration with K-Pop singer Eric Nam, ‘Echo’, and for being part of AR Rahman and Gulzar’s track ‘Meri Pukar Suno’. Amaal is best known for his compositions and singing. In March, British singer Dua Lipa released a remix of her track ‘Levitating’ that was remixed by Amaal. Armaan and Amaal are the sons of Bollywood composer Daboo Malik, and the nephews of singer Anu Malik.