Archive for the ‘Celebrities’ Category

This is another article that recently got published, this time in Telly Tadka, a “well known online media news house which not only provides news but also is an interface between the fans and the show makers, actors etc. It is the first US registered online news channel which covers behind the scene people such as writers, directors, producers, cameramen and other important people in addition to the actors.”

Audience Ka Tadka – Desi Boys

Early warning: the views below are entirely subjective. Nothing in the article is intended to suggest that any other actors not mentioned are not to be reckoned with, I have only commented on the ones I am familiar with. I am sure most will understand that, no matter how much I love TV, I can only keep up to date with a finite number of shows, so please read and enjoy but do not be upset or offended if your favourite “man” is not mentioned.

Is it finally the era of the boys of Indian TV to at least have an equal share of the spotlight, if not outshine, the girls? We are used to Indian television being the dominion of central women characters; we have had a very long run of female-centric shows in the past, and they have certainly paid their due in terms of impact and TRP ratings both. Just when we think that to run a successful Indian soap, the fail-safe recipe is to structure it around a dominating female character, be it positive or negative, or even both, we see a step-change. Yes, the men have arrived to Indian telly town and they are a sight for sore eyes. Little wonder then that females (maybe males too, could not say!) are now spoilt for choice and loving it. They have a welcome break from conventional dramas portraying mainly kitchen politics, and are now treated instead with romance and sizzling on-screen chemistry. From the numerous appealing shows and their stars we have, some certainly make a lasting impression, both in terms of their talents and personas, and the choice roles they get to play.

So what have we got? Let us see – let us start by taking God’s name and I am talking about both a show on a God, and the wonderful actor who brings this deity to life in truly magical style. Yes, I am talking about Life OK’s mythological offering, Devon ke Dev Mahadev and versatile model/ actor and perfectionist, Mohit Raina, who has now become indistinguishable from the character he plays – that of Mahadev aka Lord Shiva. Chiselled features, a physique to die for and expressions that can make you laugh and cry at the drop of a hat, all seem to be Mohit’s domain. He has made Shiva come alive for us and his portrayal of a very human, and humane, Mahadev has won over the hearts of young and old alike.

From a “God” to someone who acts as though he is one (on-screen!) – yes – I am talking about none other than the heart-throb of most – the one and only, Arnav Singh Raizada of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon fame. Talk about an unconventional hero and Arnav has got to come to mind. The man re-defined arrogance for us, his portrayal of a seemingly heartless, brutal business tycoon who cares for no one other than his sister, until his happiness (Khushi!) literally falls in his arms, transports us into the pages of a Mills & Boons romance as soon as we tune in for the show. Little wonder then that his very name creates a frenzy with his fans and hysterics abound when Barun Sobti is referred to.

Depicting a more mortal persona, but still crammed with attitude and an inspiring love for our country, Rajveer of Star Plus’s relatively new entrant – Sajda – Tere Pyaar Mein, brought to life by the dashing Shaleen Bhanot, has already made a “dabbaang” impression. Portraying an intelligence agent, in a story depicting conflict with love and duty, both the show and Ranveer’s character, already show great promise. It is clear why we would love Shaleen, with his easy charm, intense performances and the mystique surrounding Ranveer, all we now need to wait for is a display of his fantastic dancing skills, which I am sure the show’s makers will not overlook.

We then have the dashing duo, who literally could have been lifted from a Bollywood script. I refer to none other than on-screen brothers Viren and Viraat from the much-liked Star Plus show, Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, portarayed by Karan Tacker and Kushal Tandon, who are setting so many hearts aflutter. The boys are shown very different on-screen, but both appealing and attractive in their own ways – one is the husband half the nation’s girls would give their eye teeth for and the other, the charming rogue, the remaining half would be anxious to claim as theirs. All in all, between them, there is a delectable mix of qualities and characteristics to appease a wide and varied audience.

Finally, I make mention of the “boy next door”, a simple man but one who possesses qualities no one would deem a simple task to locate in a life partner. Yes, I am referring to Diya Aur Bati’s Suraj, superbly depicted by Anas Rashid, certainly no stranger to female attention thanks to his clean-cut good looks, million watt smile and just general appeal. Suraj seems to buck the current general trend which favours glamorous business tycoons, collegians or just generally a more Westernised male lead, but makes up from any apparent lack of glitz by bringing home the importance of real values – true family devotion balanced with trying to be an ideal husband as well. Suraj makes us realise that it is more important to have a soul mate who can be truly in tune with your innermost desires, rather than focussing solely on educational or social qualifications, which do not in themselves test a person’s character or eligibility.

The above is just a non-exhaustive list of some of the leading men who are making waves at the moment, as indicated at the start. I am by no means suggesting that the shows they star in are not women centred, a lot of them are. However, when we talk of them, the men have made as much of an impact on us as their lovely and multi-talented female counterparts. For example, we now synonymously think of Arnav-Khushi and Suraj-Sandhya, not just one or the other. Similarly, Devon Ke Dev has certainly broken barriers by making mythology a commercial success, that too, with a real patriarchal theme. All in all, it is great to see the wealth of talent and charisma we get treated to nowadays. So – kudos to our “boys”, you already know you are much-loved but we feel we have to say it as credit where credit is due is only fair?

Author – Shruti


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Below is another article published on on-line entertainment site, Rangmunch TV, on 9 April 2012.

What can be highest aspiration for a human being? Wealth, fame, glory, happiness or love? Think beyond that, take your mind and imagination to a higher plane. It may not be the first thing one thinks of when asked the question I raised, but surely there can be no more lofty achievement on any level, than ultimate union – that with the divine or Almighty, whatever form or manifestation you worship Him/ Her in?
An aspiration to achieve God is the central tenet of possibly all spiritual learning and longing alike. If we take Hinduism for example, the four pillars underpinning life’s goals are those of “dharma” (duty or righteousness), “artha” (wealth), “kama” (desire) and finally, “moksha” (liberation). It is clear that the final objective automatically implies an eventual absorption within,or submission to, a higher power, as to be liberated not just from your physical body, but to fully free your entire spirit, you must be “released” from all mortal boundaries. The other three may also necessitate submission to God in one form or another to achieve, as many will seek to do their duty, obtain material riches or fulfil worldly desires by relying on prayer, religion or even simply by following some form of “karmic” (deeds oriented) ideology, all of which rely on some form or other of a belief system in a superior power.
What does this have to do with Devon ke Dev Mahadev, you may ask? To answer this, ask yourself what the show is really about. Yes, we can see that it is an epic love story, it is about mythology and some will say, even fiction; it teaches us moral lessons, it warns us not to be arrogant and to have faith. Indeed, it does all that and more, but its most subliminal symbolism lies in seeing beyond Sati’s love and desire to attain Mahadev, and to equate it to the potential for EVERY human to attain God.
After all, is that not what Sati is trying to do? She is human, she is limited by her mortality and spiritual constraints. That is why there is a lot of focus on the recent track about her “yogyata” or suitability to be a bride to the most powerful of all Gods. This can, and possibly has been, misunderstood by some.
That was not a male diety being patronising to his (now) human but destined consort. It is simply a stark realisation that a human being, even one who was once “divine”, such as Sati was, can be hemmed in by her mortal limitations. Sati is often described as being possessed of all qualities one can aspire to – she is righteous, dutiful, kind, beautiful, multi-talented, and loving. How can she be unsuitable? We are told she can, as her love is still egocentric, in the sense that she struggles due to her humanity to extend that to the level of universal love that Mahadev as God can dispense.
Mahadev himself understands that and knows that an attempt to unite with Sati whilst she is still trapped within those inevitable human desires and limitations, will lead to catastrophe for Sati herself.
We have here our epic love story as a more seemingly insurmountable obstacle is harder to imagine. If it was only opposition from Sati’s father, no matter how vehement, that would be an external hardship to overcome, but again we are reminded that it is the internal battles one must fight and win, that stand between us and God more stoutly than extrinsic factors. We also have here, the hope that there is potential for a human (Sati here but it could be anyone?) to shed their impediments through challenging but yet achievable, tests or exertions.
I draw the parallel here for the potential for each of us to therefore be able to aspire to what appears almost unachievable – union with the divinity, whence we all come from and back to which we must aspire to return to, if we are to be free for once and all from all pain, suffering and to be able to merge back to the cosmos and its creator. Think also on the suggestion that it is not only through the desire for God that you can be finally released of all “desire” or attachment in itself, thereby paving the way for your own“moksha” or true liberation. Such liberation does not necessarily have to be through death- you can attain this state whilst being part of the living macrocosm.
Thank you once again to Life OK, Nikhil Sinha and the entire team of Devon ke Dev Mahadev for bringing us this important message of spirituality and ultimate hope through their wonderful show, which masquerades as a mythological drama, but is far more than just that. Also, thank you to our wonderful on-screen Shiv and Sati, Mohit Rainaand Mouni Roy, for making us fall in love with them, and thus inspiring each of us in some way to try to seek our own God or divinity.

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Thanks to my lovely fiancé, I just watched a repeat of the BBC documentary on John Bishop and his recent indescribably inspiring effort for Sports Relief UK, which managed to raise more than 3 million pounds for charity. I say thanks to my fiancé as when the actual programme was on, I was sat listening to talks on departmental budgets and case law, followed by a team networking dinner- far from inspiring when you think about the achievements of John and many others, who are using their careers not just to make money, but to make a difference to literally millions. My other half told me about the original broadcast today (which garnered viewership of over 5 million!) and then sat down to watch the repeat, pointing it out to me too. I then caught the beginning bit I still managed to miss (running errands you see- again, not really very inspiring), on the Internet.

I cannot really say anymore than has probably already been said by others about what Bishop has managed to achieve during his “Week of Hell” triathlon, which included cycling, rowing and running from Paris to London. Even if I tried to say much, it would most likely sound quite trite and inadequate, and possibly (God forbid!) patronising. After all, words like- “Well done” or “John Bishop is a hero”, do not really do justice to the sheer scale of the achievement (although both statements are true, as are the other thousands I have since seen in the press and on social networking sites).

I must admit that my initial reaction (after I actually shed tears, watching him cross the finish line, fractured leg and all) was to feel hopelessly inadequate and wonder how one really did something that made such a difference when most of life seems to be taken up with trying to cram work, home, and just “usual” life in to days, weeks, months and even years that are past you before you know it. I then listened to John’s own words, uttered whilst clearly reeling from pain and exhaustion, overwhelmed when told of the total he had raised, and yet still managing to be humble enough to credit all those who voted with their purses and donated the millions raised.

This effectively reminded me of those who made those calls and sent those tweets that made the staggering total collection possible. I feel somewhat reassured that there must be others out there, like me, who cannot help but feel intimidated and think that whatever efforts they make must seem puny in comparison to such Herculean feats. Oh, I do not refer to those amazing achievers amongst us who manage to run marathons at the drop of a hat and can squeeze in training and eventual performance for supreme endurance tests like climbing Everest, despite trying to hold down demanding jobs, raise kids, manage a household and just generally cope with the innumerable tasks that seem to plague daily living for most of us. I am in that category who struggles to make her weekly yoga class and write her blog so please exempt yourself if you belong to the former category. I hugely admire you, but suspect you might find it difficult to relate to the sense of inadequacy I describe!

All I can do is thank John Bishop for being a true hero- not only did he do what he did which will affect so many lives in Africa and here at home too, but he included all of us in his struggle and was generous enough to share the credit, which to be honest, truly only belongs to him. I say that, not because I do not agree that the actual donations made the real success of the mammoth undertaking he underwent, but because unless he had done it and touched our hearts with his struggle, not as many of us would perhaps have felt compelled to part with the money they have. It was obvious, watching John in the programme, to see how much he valued the support from everyone. I was so moved when he constantly acknowledged the supporters turning up at various stages and surely because of his humility and being the genuinely nice human being that he clearly is, a lot more of us felt compelled to think about his cause.

Oh, I know a lot of people are too quick to dismiss efforts by celebrities on the basis that they inspire people because they are famous, but that is too simplistic and in response to that (in my opinion) ridiculous argument- “So what?”! They may command a lot of media and therefore public attention due to their celebrity status but please remember- they make a huge difference, they do not have to use their profile in this way. They could sit there earning money and leading a luxurious life, without putting themselves (for example) through an endurance test that could actually cause them lasting physical damage. I am a lawyer, and I can tell you that not all of us do pro-bono work, and if any of us do, it should not be any less appreciated simply because it involves using our existing skills. A celebrity has access to more publicity but because they use that to raise millions, undergoing immense hardship in the process, that cannot be held against them! Sorry, that last rant was not really planned but just sort of happened!

Anyway, to finally cut short my ramblings, all I wanted to say was, I feel that there is precious little true humility and selflessness visible nowadays and it was therefore amazing to watch John Bishop during his sojourn. He may have had to undergo a “Week of Hell”, but his hell had paved the way for a brighter tomorrow for so many, the least we can do is bow down to him and ask him to, well, simply take a(nother) bow!

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This is a slightly edited version of an article recently penned and published on www.Rangmunch.tv, an entertainment site with a varied and wide audience:

Falling for Shiva- Devon Ke Dev Mahadev

In the proclaimed new age of Indian television, where the general trend currently favours mainly suit wearing business tycoons, trendy collegiates or the quintessential Indian gent, how can a mythological God make a universal impact? By universal, I refer to challenge that must face the makers of any mythological show for Indian audiences, of ensuring that their offering is not simply delegated to the slot viewed only by those the south side of middle age. In short, it strikes me as incredibly difficult to make a mythological series that can capture the imaginations of not just our parents and grandparents but also of a more youthful audience.  A concern even more compounded surely, when the subject of your show is one of the most famous Indian deities of all times- the towering mythical figure of Lord Shiva, a third of the triumvirate that is believed responsible for the formation, sustenance and destruction of all creation through the ages, in a never ending cycle throughout eternity.

Nikhil Sinha, through his ground breaking series, Devon ke Dev- Mahadev, was clearly up to the challenge and seems to have gone about it all the right way. You have incredibly visually appealing sets, a beautiful heroine who could be argued to be an original feminist, an actual God for a hero, a villainous father and a love story so overwrought with obstacles that it defines epic- all in all, the perfect recipe for a fare fit for the Gods themselves. You may argue that there have been various shows dealing with not only religious or mythological figures, but even the re-telling of the story of Shiva himself in the past. Ah yes- but to me, most of those still left one conscious that the God(s) in question were distant from the mortal realm and somewhat remote from the constant ills that inevitably plague its inhabitants.

This is where Mahadev starts to come into its own as its Shiva, despite being a God, is someone that forces you to relate to him. You feel his loneliness as he tries to distance himself from the cosmos he shares total responsibility for (with Brahma and Vishnu) by living a hermit’s life, having given up his literal other half- his “Shakti” and his consort for the sake of the  macrocosm. You feel his pain as he repeatedly rejects Sati, the human incarnation of his very Shakti he has sacrificed in the past, as he is fearful of the consequences of such union on her. You cheer for him and cannot help sigh with pleasure when he arrives every time to save his lady, planting himself as strong as any mountain in the path of whatever danger faces her. Not only is he astoundingly handsome and charismatic but also kind and innocent, he truly respects women, he wants to allow Sati freedom of choice, is selfless in his love and yet masculine enough to set most female hearts aflutter.

Who can play such a personality and do him justice? This is where the show clinches the deal, as Mohit Raina, our on-screen Shiva, does more than breathe life into the challenging role, he owns it and works his way into your imagination in a way that most are in danger of imagining only him whenever they try to visualise Shiva.  It is not just the incredible physique Mohit has built up for the role, neither is it the chiselled features and the sheer force of the very character of the Lord of the Gods, although all these do undoubtedly play a big part. It is his mastery of every expression, from sublime peace to Rudra’s famous all-consuming anger, the pleasure when faced with genuine worship and the turmoil caused by feeling that he cannot risk Sati herself by accepting her as his wife, that the actor manages to command and wield against his audience with as much accuracy as his deadly on-screen “trishul”. Not only that, in his on-going quest to give it his all, this model turned actor has recently taken up classical dancing lessons (in “Kathak”) as dance is such an integral part of Shiva and the show. This is preceded by the stupendous work he has already undergone with respects to having to build up his body in accordance with the challenging dictates of the role.

No wonder then that a lot of us forget we are watching a famous God being presented, we see the sublime man, and young or old, I challenge anyone who finds themselves able to resist this versatile actor’s magnetism.  Testament to his heart-touching characterisation is the messages that pour in for him on social networking or internet sites, particularly on his twitter account. We see girls drooling over him, telling him they are in love with him, others sending heart-felt appreciation for his work, even viewers messaging on behalf of their mothers and others not of the Facebook generation, with messages, all sending him love and best wishes. That in itself is not unique as of course there are many that can lay claim to being Indian television heartthrobs, but what sets this man apart is that he frequently takes the time to personally respond and each response is just like him, modest, unassuming and personable. One of my favourite examples is that of Mohit’s recent tweets to a young fan, a student, who has been tweeting him in between studies, requesting he respond and also that she would love it if he followed her on twitter. Most actors would never respond to what they must find a common place occurrence, but Mohit responded personally twice, each time urging his young fan to study and even dangling the carrot stick that if she did very well, he would follow her twitter account.  His tweets to each person resonate with personal concern- young school going fans are gently reminded to study, respect is shown to mothers of fans who like the show and jokes are returned with witty humour.

I have umpteen examples of how much his fans love Mohit. We have recently seen twin brothers spend eight hours creating a beautiful painting of Mohit as Shiva, which our hero not only praised to the high heavens and thanked the creators for (though the fan club that posted the painting), but also displayed as his twitter photo for a day. It seems that many have succumbed to the Mahadev mania. It is however, no trouble as when the object of your admiration is so deserving and yet so humble, you cannot help but try to give them credit, confident in the knowledge that they are too modest to self promote. If you do not believe me, just watch any interview with Mohit- he is so reticent about himself and his considerable skills, he always downplays his excellent performances but is always so complimentary about co-stars and the team (and rightly complimentary at that too).

I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you did and enjoy Mahadev and particularly the sterling work done by Mohit, please do follow him on twitter on @mohituraina and on his fan club on @Mohit_FC.

Har Har Mahadev in the meantime!


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