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Bollywood actor Rahul Roy tests COVID-19 positive

BollyWood|: Bollywood actor Rahul Roy, whose defining role in his acting career was the hit romance ‘Aashiqi’, has tested positive for COVID-19 along with his sister Priyaka and brother-in-law Romeer. The 53-year-old actor took to his social media to express his disillusionment about contracting the virus. “I know COVID-19 is there but how did I and my family contract this virus without leaving the house, without meeting people or even without going for walks is a question I will never be answered to? My sister @priyankaroy_pia is a yogini and a breathing expert who practices ancient breathing techniques and did not leave the house since 3 months, and without any symptoms has been shown positive in the reports,” he wrote. The actor and his family are at home isolating themselves. “For now waiting for second 14 days quarantine to get over and redo my tests ... For all of you, wear your masks, wash your hands, stay clean. And I hope you do not contract the virus staying inside the house. Hope to be back soon with negative reports. Love you all,” he added. Despite not leaving his home or displaying any symptoms, he was tested because his neighbour contracted the virus. “My Covid story. My Resident Floor was sealed on 27th March as a neighbour had got tested positive so as a precautionary measure we all were sealed within Flats for 14 days. I and my family had to fly to Delhi on 11th April so we did RTPCR test from Metropolis Lab on 7th April only to receive the test reports on 10th April stating my whole family @romeersen and @priyankaroy_pia are Covid positive,” wrote Roy. Akshay Kumar and Alia Bhatt Image Credit: IANS and Instagram.com/aliabhatt Roy isn’t the only Bollywood talent to have teste positive. Actors including Alia Bhatt, Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal have all tested positive.

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‘Bridgerton’ breakout star Rege-Jean Page's hit character is alive: Shonda Rhimes

TV|: “Like, we didn’t kill him. He’s still alive!” That’s what Shonda Rhimes told Vanity Fair recently, reacting to the uproar over news that fan favorite Rege-Jean Page would not return as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, in the second season of Netflix’s hit series ‘Bridgerton.’ Shonda Rhimes Image Credit: AP Rhimes, an executive producer on the series set in Regency-era England, said she was “really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while” — like the McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and McSteamy (Eric Dane) characters on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ Patrick Dempsey Image Credit: AP In the case of ‘Bridgerton,’ Page’s disappearance is mostly to do with the structure of the source material, eight books by Julia Quinn that detail each of the eight Bridgerton siblings’ love lives. Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the rakish duke’s eventual one-and-only, had her story told in book one (‘The Duke and I’) and in season one. And now that’s done. BRIDGERTON (L to R) REGÉ-JEAN PAGE as SIMON BASSET in episode 108 of BRIDGERTON Cr. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020 Image Credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX Page, Rhimes said, “is a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job — every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance. I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance. “What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Rege-Jean do, you know what I mean?,” she told Vanity Fair. “We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!” Rege-Jean Page in 'Bridgerton' Image Credit: Netflix Since making a splash (and nabbing a SAG Award nomination) as the dashing duke in Netflix’s popular series, Page has hosted ‘Saturday Night Live,’ been mentioned as a leading candidate to play the next James Bond and nabbed a leading role in the Hasbro-Paramount adaptation of ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ along with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Justice Smith. Netflix announced Monday that ‘Bridgerton’ has also been picked up for seasons three and four. Season two, based on ‘The Viscount Who Loved Me,’ will focus on the romantic adventures of Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the fictional family’s eldest son, and Kate Sharma (‘Sex Education’ star Simone Ashley).

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Hollywood hit franchise ‘Fast 9’ races to space in new trailer

HollyWood|: Once upon a time, ‘Fast & Furious’ hero Dominic Toretto was just the humble, brooding ringleader of a squad of street racers boosting electronics off of big rigs along the highways outside of Los Angeles. What a difference 20 years and 10 films make. Nine movies (and a spinoff) deep into Universal’s record-breaking ‘Fast’ Saga, Toretto has become den daddy to a sprawling chosen clan of world-saving street racers-turned-international spies whose action antics exponentially defy not only death, but the laws of physics with each new instalment. Now, with series director Justin Lin (‘The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift,’ ‘Fast & Furious,’ ‘Fast 5,’ ‘Fast 6’) returning to lead the crowd-pleasing franchise into its final chapters, ‘Fast 9’ (June 25) is gearing up to be one big family reunion setting up a 10th and 11th series conclusion. After postponing its theatrical debut for more than a year due to the pandemic, ‘Fast 9’ is finally charging toward release — again — with a new trailer packed with tidbits and teases as the gang races into terrain where no “Fast” family has gone before. John Cena as Dom’s ‘little’ brother. We’d already learned last year that Vin Diesel’s Dom had a surprise bad guy brother named Jakob Toretto, and that he looked like WWE star John Cena. Jakob’s existence has been retconned into ‘Fast 9’ by a script credited to Lin and writer Daniel Casey — but who really started the brotherly beef? “You always say never turn your back on family,” Cena growls in the trailer, “but you turned your back on me.” Brian O’Conner lives on. After watching the late Paul Walker drive off into the sunset at the end of 'Furious 7,' filmmakers have been deliberate about how much of the beloved actor and his “Fast” character, Brian, to include in future films. Here the character is glimpsed briefly in footage being watched by Dom, who has named his own young son after his best friend. “Fast & Furious & Self Aware?” Part of the family since jumping a speeding car onto a boat in “2 Fast 2 Furious,” Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce has now seen the crew get in and out of ever more ridiculous shenanigans … and is the first to comment on how over the top their adventures have become. “We’ve taken out planes, trains, tanks … I’m not even going to think about the submarine. And now we’ve got cars flying in the air?” The Cipher of it all. A fan theory prompted by the end of the Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham-starring ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ posited that Charlize Theron’s villainous “Fate of the Furious” hacker Cipher might be the link tying the spinoff’s sci-fi cyborgian lore with the main series mythology. What we do know: A criminal mastermind who can pull off a chic bowl cut and menace from inside a plastic prison is a foe to be feared. Universal Pictures is moving back the ninth Fast and Furious film by a year. Image Credit: Suplied A Tokyo Drift Summer. The boys are back — that is, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), Earl (Jason Tobin) and Twinkie (Bow Wow), who first zoomed around Tokyo as teenagers with Sung Kang’s Han in the franchise’s pivotal third installment, 'Tokyo Drift' (Lin’s first 'Fast' behind the camera). Now they’re clinking Coronas. Life finds a way. Justice is coming. After clamoring for #JusticeForHan for years, fans of Kang’s world-wise hero are getting their deepest wish: To see the “Fast” franchise finally do right by Han, who perished at the end of “Tokyo Drift” but was so popular filmmakers bent time to include him in the sequels anyway. The franchise later misstepped by inviting his killer, Deckard Shaw, to the family BBQ — but “Fast 9” promises to reveal how exactly Han is still alive. Per the new peek, 'Fast 9' will serve up Helen Mirren drift racing around London, MRod teaming up with Jordana Brewster’s Mia, Nathalie Emmanuel’s Ramsey getting behind the wheel and Anna Sawai (Ninja Assassin) in a mysterious role. Magnets mean … sci-fi? The power of mega magnets used by Dom & Co. to barrel their way through crowded streets propels some of the messiest, metal-crunching chase sequences in the packed 3.5-minute trailer. Sci-fi leads us to: SPACE. Finally! It was only a matter of time before the long-debated fan theory made it onto the screen and into ‘Fast’ lore. After crossing the globe zooming on land, water (well, ice) and through the air, where else could they have gone next but up?

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Look: Jada Pinkett Smith wears hijab on first day of Ramadan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas approves

HollyWood|: Jada Pinkett Smith shared images of herself wearing the hijab on the first day of Ramadan. The American actress and ‘Red Table Talk’ host took to her Instagram account on Tuesday, where she shared two selfies wearing a light-coloured veil, in the manner of a hijab, to her 10.7 million followers. “I really think the color peach in the Middle East ... suits me,” she wrote. Pinkett Smith appeared to be in a hotel room with a view of the water behind her. However, she did not tag her location. “Beatiful,” wrote fellow actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, adding a heart-eyes emoji. Meanwhile, Tamar Braxton commented: “Love it.” British radio host Fearne Cotton commented: "Stunning." Celebrities respond to Jada Pinkett Smith's images wearing hijab on Instagram. Image Credit: Instagram/Jada Pinkett Smith “Beautiful, J,” wrote Pinkett Smith’s mother, Gammy Norris, who co-hosts the candid interview series ‘Red Table Talk’ on Facebook with her and her granddaughter, Willow Smith. Pinkett Smith and her family, including husband Will Smith, are no strangers to the Middle East, including the UAE. The celebrity couple often visit to film content or promote their projects, such as the film ‘Suicide Squad’, which held a press conference in Dubai. In 2018, they skydived in Dubai for Will’s 50th birthday. They were spotted by bystanders earlier this year in the city.

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April 14: This day, that year in music history

Music|: The last and controversial Beatles number one hit 1969 The Beatles recorded the controversial ‘The Ballad Of John and Yoko’ a song John Lennon wrote about his marriage to Japanese multimedia artist Yoko Ono and their run-ins with authorities. Only two members of the band recorded the song. Paul McCartney played bass, drums and piano with John on guitars and lead vocals. It was the late time that Lennon and McCartney collaborated and it was the last Beatles song to be released as a single. It became the band’s 17th and final #1 hit record. The song was recorded and mixed in nine hours on the same day. The line ‘Christ, you know it aint easy,’ caused a lot of controversy with its meaning with the conservative BBC banning it on radio with several US radio stations doing the same. However, on some stations, the word ‘Christ’ was edited in backwards to avoid the ban. Buddhist monks chant at Cobain’s funeral 1994 Kurt Cobain Image Credit: Shutterstock Iconic Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, leader of the 1990s grunge era, was cremated at the Bleitz Funeral Home, Seattle. The death certificate credited Cobain’s occupation as Poet/Musician and his type of business as Punk Rock. His partner at the time, Courtney Love divided his ashes; keeping some in a teddy bear and some in an urn. She also a portion to the Namgyal Buddhist Monastery in Ithasa, New York to have them ceremonially blessed by Buddhist monks. The ashes were then mixed into clay, which were used to make memorial sculptures. His mother, Wendy, held a final ceremony on May 31, 1999, at which a Buddhist monk chanted while Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, scattered his ashes into McLane Creek in Olympia, Washing, the city which fueled Cobain’s artistic muse. Born this day, that year Rock music welcomes a guitar legend 1945 Deep Purple Image Credit: Archives English guitarist and songwriter Ritchie Blackmore from the legendary British rock band Deep Purple who scored several hit records like the 1973 classic ‘Smoke On The Water’. The song maybe over four decades old but it still inspires beginners to pick up their first instrument and attempt to copy Blackmore’s style. In 1975 the Guinness Book of World Records listed Deep Purple as “the globe’s loudest band” for a 1972 concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre. Blackmore, who was renowned for creating a musical maelstrom with his signature Stratocaster guitar, later formed Rainbow who had several hit singles including the two most famous of them, Temple of the King and Man on the Silver Mountain. Many of Blackmore guitar solos have been voted among the best in rock music history.

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Kareena Kapoor reveals Sharmila Tagore has yet to meet her grandchild because of COVID-19

BollyWood|: As the world waits with bated breath to catch the first glimpse of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s new baby, outsiders may have to wait a while longer as it has now been revealed that the newborn’s grandmother has still to set eyes on him thanks to the pandemic. The nugget was revealed by Kapoor Khan herself who appeared in a video message commemorating her mother-in-law during her Ladies Study Group interview. “When it comes to talking about such an icon and legend, what is left to say? The whole world knows that my mother-in-law, who I am lucky to call my mother-in-law, is one of the most elegant and graceful women to have walked the earth. But I have been lucky to know her deeper than that, which is that she is warm, she is loving, caring and someone who is always there not just for her children but her grandchildren, daughter-in-law,” Kapoor Khan said of the veteran actress. Image Credit: GN Archives “The fact that this whole year has gone by and we have actually not been able to spend as much time as we used to. You have not been able to see the new addition to our family but we are just waiting to actually come together, spend some time with you,” Kapoor Khan further added during her video message to Tagore. Khan and Kapoor Khan welcomed their second son on February 21, who is the younger sibling to Taimur Ali Khan. The Bollywood power couple have yet to reveal the newborn’s name and his picture. Earlier, Kapoor Khan posted a monochrome image of her son with his back to the camera, as he nestled against his mother. Khan’s mother Tagore ruled the Bollywood industry in the 60s and 70s. She is also a recipient of two Indian National Film Awards. After marrying cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi she took a hiatus from acting and focussed of her three children, Saba, Saif and Soha Ali Khan.

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Ranveer Singh to star in Shankar’s adaptation of ‘Anniyan’

BollyWood|: Tamil hit machine Shankar will direct Bollywood star Ranveer Singh in the official adaptation of his 2005 Tamil blockbuster ‘Anniyan’, which starred Vikram. The film is slated to go on the floors in mid-2022. The yet-untitled project is being announced around the auspicious time of Baisakhi in North India and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, which marks the New Year celebrations in these respective calendars. “I am blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of the spectacular cinematic vision of Shankar sir. He is an exception to the norm, a true disruptor who has shown us that no vision is large enough to achieve on screen. I had always hoped and dreamed that I would get a chance to collaborate with him, and I have a strong feeling that we will create magic together,” Singh said in a statement. The actor shared that to lead a film like ‘Anniyan’ is a dream come true for any artist. “Vikram Sir, one of our country’s finest talents, an artiste who I hugely admire, gave a colossal performance in the original, one that can never be matched. I can only hope that my interpretation and rendition of the part also connects with audiences in the same way,” he said. Calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime performance piece”, Singh added: “I am ready to give this role every single ounce of my being. Shankar Sir is a genius filmmaker and a true visionary. Words don’t do justice to just how excited I am at the prospect of being directed by him.” Expressing his excitement, director Shankar said: “For it to be made into a Hindi film, ‘Anniyan’ needed a maverick, charismatic showman like no other to play the part. I found this in the mercurial Ranveer Singh because he is a one-in-a-generation actor who has shown us that he can immortalise a character through his stellar performance.” The director is thrilled to make ‘Anniyan’ for the pan-Indian audience. “I’m confident that this powerful story will strike a chord in the hearts of all,” he added. ‘Anniyan’ is a psychological action thriller that revolves around a disillusioned man, whose frustration at what he sees as increasing social apathy and public negligence leads to a split personality that attempts to right the system. Talking about the Shankar-Singh creative coup, Dr. Jayantilal Gada, Chairman and MD of the production house Pen Studios said: “Shankar and Ranveer are two forces of nature and them coming together is the biggest cinematic event in India.” The film will be co-produced by God Bless Entertainment.

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Bayat short film review: UAE-based Indian couple pin hopes on migrating to Canada

TV|: The story of one Indian couple desperate to migrate to Canada hits home on quite few levels, especially for expat families who are looking to build a new life for their children. The first film in the ‘Bayat: A Solemn Promise’ series follows the story of Vinay, whose life resembles that of an overworked hamster, perpetually running in the wheel of life. Work consumes his existence, with 14-hour workdays taking a toll on his health and family life. ‘Bayat: A Solemn Promise’ Image Credit: Supplied The work-life balance or lack thereof is something many working individuals are privy to here in the UAE, especially since the onslaught of the pandemic that has blurred the lines between switching on and off. In the short film, Vinay finds himself in a similar predicament, returning after a 14-hour shift, only to be told that he needs to either come back in or clock into office much earlier the following day to complete a report. ‘Bayat: A Solemn Promise’ Image Credit: Supplied His wife Vinitha finds herself bearing the brunt of his frustration, which turns to desperation when their daughter Ashu pleads with her father to move away from this mundane existence and start afresh. Read more Bayat - A Solemn Promise: A triumphant journey of hope Bayat: A Solemn Promise | Episode 1 Bayat | Official Trailer Can Vinay and Vinitha make the move to Canada after all? Short films delve into UAE immigrant stories Is that even possible, quizzes Vinay. The family’s predicament is answered by a friend who has already paved the way for his own migration to Canada, along with that of his family. Vinitha and Vinay have been trying for three years and are worried that this latest experiment could also fail, along with another heavy loss to incur in the process. What sets the film apart is the transparent approach adapted in the storyline. Without making false promises as Vinay heads to Bayat Legal Services for a consult, the assurance gives that much-needed confidence to the family and others like them to take that leap of faith.

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Tamil star Vishnu Vishal to get married this month with Jwala Gutta

Even a pandemic couldn’t keep them apart with Tamil actor Vishnu Vishal announcing that he will be marrying his fiancée and long-time girlfriend Jwala Gutta on April 22. In a statement on social media, which was accompanied with the image of wedding card, Vishal tweeted: “LIFE IS A JOURNEY.... EMBRACE IT... HAVE FAITH AND TAKE THE LEAP.... Need all your love and support as always...” An official statement by the family reads: “With the blessings of our families, it gives us immense joy in sharing the news of our marriage, in a private affair in presence of near & dear. We thank you for all the love you have showered upon us over the years and seek blessings as we embark on this journey of love, loyalty, friendship, and togetherness.” Vishal and badminton player Gutta have been dating for several years before they decided to make it official last September in a small ceremony, keeping the pandemic in mind. The wedding will also be on a small scale due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in India. This will be the second marriage for both of them with Vishal previously married to Rajini Natraj between 2010 and 2018. The couple also share a son, Aryan. Gutta was also married to fellow shuttler Chetan Anand for six years. They were hitched in 2005 but divorced in 2011. Vishal has been out of commission for a while following his injury during the shooting of ‘Kaadan’, which was the Tamil version of ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’. Following his wedding, Vishal will be starring in ‘FIR’ and ‘Mohandas’; both are Tamil movies.

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Selena Gomez and JLo to headline vax concert for poor nations

Music|: Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez and headlined by Jennifer Lopez, Global Citizen is unveiling an ambitious campaign to help medical workers in the world’s poorest countries quickly receive COVID-19 vaccines. The anti-poverty organisation is announcing the musical event — ‘VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World’ — with the goal of enlisting corporations and philanthropists to raise $22 billion for global vaccinations. The concert, which airs May 8 on ABC, CBS and FOX in the US, as well as on iHeartMedia radio stations and YouTube, will also showcase the Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and H.E.R. The acts will be recorded at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Ahead of the event, Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, highlighted the magnitude of the problem his organisation aims to address. Jennifer Lopez Image Credit: Shutterstock “There are 27 million healthcare workers globally who don’t have access to the vaccine,” Evans said. “I’m 38 years old, and it’s not ethical for me to have access to the vaccine before these heroic first responders and community health workers. So we need governments to start urgently donating those doses.” The Global Citizen programme is among of a growing web of nonprofits and activists that are seeking to achieve wider, more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. As of this month, Evan said, 60 nations had still not yet received any COVID-19 vaccines. Foo Fighters, from left: Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins, Dave Grohl, Rami Jaffee and Nate Mendel, in Los Angeles, Jan. 13, 2021. The band’s new album, “Medicine at Midnight,” is a slight pivot. (Magdalena Wosinska/The New York Times) Image Credit: NYT “Low-income countries not only need this welcome fundraising effort” they need access to COVID-19 vaccine doses,” Tom Hart, the North American executive director of another nonprofit, The ONE Campaign, said last month. “The United States has secured over 550 million excess doses that could be used to help end the global pandemic faster.” A week later, Gayle Smith, The ONE Campaign’s president and CEO, was selected by the Biden Administration for the new State Department position of coordinator of global COVID response and health security. Global Citizen, which normally focuses on fighting severe poverty, became involved with COVID-19 vaccines out of what it calls necessity. “We can’t get back to ending extreme poverty while 150 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty this year due to the pandemic,” Evans said. “Everything else is academic until we can get it under control.” The advocacy organisation last year developed what it calls ‘A Recovery Plan for the World’, which it hopes will simultaneously address COVID-19, the climate crisis, hunger and education issues, as well as racial equity. Under that plan, Global Citizen secured $1.5 billion in commitments from the Group of Seven industrialised democracies. Eventually, though, it recognized that greater awareness and funding were needed. As he described it, ‘VAX Live’ will be the first globally televised effort to lobby world leaders to help achieve more equitable vaccine distribution. The event is also intended to raise commitments for the billions of dollars that are needed to send 2 billion vaccine doses, in addition to COVID-19 tests, to the world’s poorest countries by year’s end. Selena Gomez Image Credit: AP To Evans, Gomez is an ideal host to press those points to the people who needed to hear them the most. “Selena Gomez is obviously an incredible leader in her own right,” he said. “She has one of the largest social followings on the planet, and she also is a true leader among young people and in the Latinx community.” Gomez, for her part, said she felt honored to be chosen. “This is a historic moment to encourage people around the world to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, call on world leaders to share vaccine doses equitably and to bring people together for a night of music in a way that hasn’t felt possible in the past year,” the ‘Lose You to Love Me’ singer said in a statement. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.” For years, Global Citizen has used the power of celebrities’ connections with their fans to create a movement of “collective action” that shows government leaders how popular certain programs can be. Its annual Global Citizen Festivals in Central Park have furthered its goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 with the help of fans of Beyonce or Coldplay or Stevie Wonder speaking out to world leaders on social media. The group hopes to do it again with ‘VAX Live’.

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Parvathy doesn’t let a pandemic keep her away from filming ‘Aarkariyam’

Are you in the mood to watch a movie shot during the pandemic and that primarily explores how COVID-19 threw lives out of whack? Indian National Award-winning actress Parvathy explores how an ordinary Christian family from Kerala grapples with their new reality in her latest Malayalam film ‘Aarkariyam’, out in the UAE cinemas on April 15. Shot after the pandemic struck the globe last year, director Sanu John Varghese’s ‘Aarkariya’ revolves around Shirley (Parvathy) and her husband who eke out a living in Mumbai metropolis, but temporarily shift to their native Kerala to live with her eccentric, ageing widower father (Biju Menon). “‘Aarkariyam’ deals with something that happened in our recent past and touches upon that uncertain phase,” said Parvathy in an interview with Gulf News over the phone. This self-made acclaimed actress, who famously called out the casual sexism and toxic misogyny in Malayalam star-led blockbusters said that the pandemic has altered the mindsets irrevocably. The grim reality of a deadly virus claiming lives around the globe has been a big leveler, pointed out Parvathy. “This pandemic has put me in this ‘Carpe Diem’ [seize the day] phase where I want to seize the day every day. There’s a lot of sensitivity in me about how privileged I am. I feel so grateful for what I have, but it has also raised questions about how we lead our lives,” said Parvathy. While she’s thankful for surviving the pandemic without many scratches, COVID-19 has also raised questions about mortality. “The thought of mortality has always fascinated me since my childhood. I base all my life choices, relationships, and decisions to move on in life based on my knowledge that I am not going to be here a long time … COVID just accentuated what I already had in my mind,” she said. Acclaimed career Parvathy and Asif Ali in ‘Uyare’. Image Credit: Supplied Parvathy is one of Malayalam cinema’s most versatile actresses and boasts a rich roster of hits including the engaging ‘Bangalore Days’, ‘Take-Off’, and ‘Virus’. She has also acted with late actor Irrfan Khan in the Bollywood romantic comedy ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’. But she isn’t resting on her laurels. Making unorthodox career choices in film such as ‘Aarkariyam’ in which she plays a devout Christian woman alongside a seasoned actor such as Biju Menon, who plays her eccentric, temperamental father, is just scratching the surface. “I am very happy with my life and career. But I am also very greedy to explore different genres in cinema … I am yet to flex my muscles in action or comedy. I have a lot more to do,” said Parvathy. So, is starring in a web show on her list of conquests? Recently, established Malayalam talents such as Fahadh Faasil and Mohanlal have begun releasing their films directly on web platforms now. ‘Joji’, ‘Irul’ and ‘Drishyam 2’ have all directly released on streaming platforms and was met with great success. “I am a big fan of OTT [over-the-top] myself and I am a big fan of going to the theatres too … As an actor I am greedy. I want to do it all … OTTs is a great space for actors to shape-shift. They allow you to explore,” said Parvathy. Excerpts from our interview was we speak about ‘Aarkariyam’, her career trajectory in Malayalam films, and how progressive they are getting … Q: Why should we watch ‘Aarkariyam’? Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: When I first heard the script of Sanu [John Varghese, cinematographer -turned-director], I couldn’t put his film in any specific genre. Every time, I think about how to explain this film to someone who hasn’t watched it, I think of Milan Kundera’s book on the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. ‘Aarkariyam’ is so ordinary and relatable, but sometimes you feel that truth is stranger than fiction and that’s what happens in this film. All our characters in this film will remind you of people you know and make you wonder if you even know the people in your lives truly or do you just think that you know them. ‘Aarkariyam’ means ‘who knows?’ and the title ties in neatly with this thought whether you know someone truly or not. Q: You have often made bold career choices. Honestly, I never expected you in such a film that also features Biju Menon as your on-screen father. Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: After working with Sanu in ‘Take Off’ in which he was the cinematographer, I knew that I enjoyed our collaboration. He doesn’t talk for the sake of talking. He always brings something new to the table and he’s so no-nonsense. My first thought when I heard this script is not that I want to play the character, but I want to be a part of his story. Having said that, my character in this film is exciting. I play someone who truly believes in God. She believes that God will never put you in a situation that you cannot get out of. Her unwavering faith makes her a cool-headed person. She believes God has the power to get you out of any situation that he put you in. She’s somebody who believes that she’s going to lead a happy life, even though she has survived many things in the past. Her troubled past doesn’t define her present. She doesn’t live under that shadow. These are the two elements that attracted me to this film. In real life, I am a borderline atheist. I am still figuring out my spirituality and I love being in that mystical space. The confusion helps me bring about some drama in my life. There’s an element of extreme lack of faith in me which is mirrored in the extreme presence of faith in my character in ‘Aarkariyam’. I believe there’s no such thing as an outside force controlling or designing our lives. I am cool in that sense, but my character is equally cool.... Our extreme nature and our confidence in our belief system made us similar, although we think differently. I wanted to embody that in Shirley. She came alive on the sets, more than on the paper. She was built on set after my numerous conversations with Sanu and Sandeepa [producer of ‘Aarkariyam’ and Sanu’s wife]. Q: So, you were essentially faking it... Parvathy Image Credit: Supplied A: I wasn’t faking it and that’s the weirdest part. When I perform, I truly believe in my characters. Playing Shirley was like a mini-vacation from myself. I suspended my disbelief while portraying her … I always respect the characters that I play and I don’t judge them. And, because I don’t judge them, I am not faking it. I am just imitating them. There’s a diference. Q: Malayalam cinema is going through this fantastic phase where unusual, ordinary-but-extraordinary stories are being told. Your thoughts? Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: We are on the way to making some solid changes, especially post COVID-19. The movies that were made during the pandemic show how resilient our Malayalam cinema is and our adaptability. It brought to the front our talented directors, writers, and those visionaries. It’s broken all structures to survive and be saleable. I have witnessed how Malayalam cinema has constantly become this source of admiration for so many people around India and from other film industries. But we need to stand the test of time. Our recent films like ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’, ‘Joji’ and even ‘Aarkariyam’ is a testament to our resilience. There was a time when movies of director KG George’s ‘Aadminte Vaariyellu’ (1983) had released. We didn’t know what its box-office results were then, but over time it’s become a cult classic for every filmmaker in Malayalam cinema to measure the progressiveness of Malayalam films. The kind of films that are being made post-COVID-19 would become that stamp of our times we live in. ‘Aarkariyam’ and ‘Joji’ are films that were made during COVID-19. Both these films explore the how masked-ness of our lives now seeps into our storytelling. Q: Was it bizarre filming during the pandemic? Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: It was very bizarre. During the take of a scene, you remove your mask, feeling exposed and risking your health to a greater degree. For ‘Aarkariyam’, we created a bio-bubble and I couldn’t see my technicians or members of the set for the first time in my career. You can never see their faces as they are constantly masked. As an actor, who is often not masked in front of the camera, you feel a certain sense of vulnerability which was not fun. We got through it somehow and we felt OK. For actors, it was a lonely experience. Q: Did your process suffer? Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: No. On the set, the process remained pretty much the same but as actors, we had to be more attuned to finding visual cues and be open to read their energy. Now, we can’t read their faces anymore. I have learned to read their eyes and you need to have more presence of mind now. Things that you took for granted are not there anymore. The introvert in me is very happy that I don’t have to go for promotions outside for a film. I love sitting at home and working on my craft. I love my own company. Q: Malayalam cinema is usually not escapist and is rooted in reality. So, is that why it’s so web friendly? Aarkariyam Image Credit: Supplied A: Definitely. The art department in a Malayalam film, who is in charge of setting up space visually in a film in terms of the land, the structure, and the landscape, everything seems relatable for a lot of people. In ‘Aarkariyam’, though the story is partly set in a metropolis like Bombay where you see a couple grappling with COVID-19, it’s bizarrely relatable for all. We can’t ever forget 2020 March when lockdown had just begun. We were worried about food, groceries, and migrant labourers. There was a sudden questioning of humanity itself. Don’t Miss It! ‘Aarkariyam’ is out in UAE cinemas on April 15

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Sonakshi Sinha wants to use her fame to make a difference

BollyWood|: Sonakshi Sinha is often seen raising her voice for causes she believes in, be it donating money for PPE kits or taking a stand against trolling. The Bollywood actress feels as a celebrity, one can make a big difference if one speaks up for the right things. “I tie up with causes I strongly believe in and, as celebrities, I feel we can make a difference because we have a voice, and it should be used to make the world a better place. So, if there is any cause that is for the upliftment and development of society, why not?” she said. Sinha has been doing her bit by posting about the importance of wearing a mask on social media. She says that although last year was slow for Bollywood, she didn’t mind being at home and spending time with her family. “Personally, it was a blessing to be home, since I do not remember the last time I got such ample time to spend with my family. Over the last few years, I have constantly been working, so I enjoyed this break to the fullest,” she added. In fact, she adds that she took up a lot of hobbies during this time. “I also started painting, sketching, and binged-watched TV shows and lots of movies. I think I made the most of it,” she revealed. Sinha will soon be seen in the film ‘Bhuj: The Pride Of India’, which also stars Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sharad Kelkar, Ammy Virk, Pranitha Subhash and Nora Fatehi. She will also be seen in the film ‘Bulbul Tarang’, which is also slated to release digitally. She makes her small screen debut with the web series ‘Fallen’.

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Watch: Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ trailer unleashes a zombie apocalypse

HollyWood|: Hot on the heels of ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’, the filmmaker returns to unleash a zombie apocalypse through his Netflix film, ‘Army of the Dead’. The new trailer brings the Snyder styled action packed in the 2.50-minute trailer that unspools to the soundtrack of Kenny Rogers’ throaty rendition of ‘The Gambler’. Zack Snyder shootying Army of the Dead Image Credit: Netflix Former zombie war hero Scott Ward is enticed from his burger flipping days to return to action and retrieve the money of as casino boss that is tucked away in Las Vegas. The only problem is, Sin City is overrun by zombies, who are reportedly smarter and deadlier than ever before. As the tempo builds up, a gang of merry henchmen and cronies are teamed up to wander into zombie territory and make a run for it with the cash. What could possibly go wrong? Huma Qureshi in Army of the Dead Image Credit: YouTube Screengrab The ragtag team of experts include Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, among others. Meanwhile, Bollywood fans will also find a blink-and-you-will-miss appearance of actress Huma Qureshi who plays Geeta, a mother who’s gone missing inside the city. Cast of Army of the Dead Image Credit: Netflix With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in and a monster tiger to boot, Snyder promises edge of seat action, who is serving on the Netflix project as a story writer and producer as well. The film drops on the streaming platform on May 21.

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‘Wagle Ki Duniya, ‘Anupama’, top Indian TV shows stall due to COVID-19

TV|: The second wave of COVID-19, which has already brought Bollywood to a near standstill, is also working its way through the Indian TV industry as well. Earlier this week, nearly 10 members tested positive on the sets of ‘Wagle Ki Duniya’, the popular Indian sitcom that was recently given a new lease on life. Taking to Twitter, producer JD Majethia wrote: “We found a few positive cases on our set so we took a break at the shoot keeping their health and well-being on priority. We will be soon back with fresh episodes. Wish you all safety and good health. @sabtv Wagle Ki Duniya (sic).” Sumeet Raghavan, who plays the lead on the show, was seen addressing the audience in the video shared by Majethia. The actor stated the Wagle family has been affected by the pandemic and for the coming week they will be showing some of the best episodes of ‘Wagle Ki Duniya’. They will soon return with new episodes. Anupama still Image Credit: Star Networks ‘Wagle Ki Duniya’ isn’t the only show hit during the second wave of COVID-19. Earlier Star TV’s popular show ‘Anupamaa’ found its shoot brought to a halt when lead star Rupali Ganguly tested positive for COVID-19. Following her prognosis, other actors on the show, including Sudhanshu Pandey and Ashish Mehrotra also tested positive, along with producer Rajan Shahi. Things came to a halt on the singing-reality show, ‘Indian Idol 12’ recently when host of the show Aditya Narayan tested positive for the coronavirus. ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain’ also came into the limelight when lead actress Shubhangi Atre, who plays the character of Angoori Bhabhi, got tested positive for COVID-19. ‘Ye Hain Chahatein’s Abrar Qazi, ‘Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha’ actress Narayani Shastri and ‘Molki’ actors Toral Rasputra, Amar Upadhyay and Priyal Mahajan, also tested positive in recent weeks.