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Of love, power and passion!
They are one of the most-loved and adored power couples! Presenting on our cover this month are Cover Stars and B-Town sweethearts Karan Kundrra and Tejasswi Prakash like you’ve never seen before. Quite a coup to be honest as the duo has never shot together for any magazine cover before this one. And quite a sizzler we have here as you can already see. Well, the two admit that this one is really special for both of them too.
Together, they are unfiltered, real, goofy, and in love and their chemistry crackling hot as ever speaks for itself as we meet up over multiple occasions in Dubai. Unlike the other couples who boast of their perfect love stories, these two insist on their love story - that started on the reality show Bigg Boss - being imperfectly perfect. “Love is never about being perfect. It’s about being flawed and loving each other inspite of those flaws,” Sunny and Laddoo (endearments Karan and Tejasswi have for each other) tell me as we settle down for a candid conversation. Read more about this lovable couple as they spill some interesting secrets and reveal their marriage plans in our cover story ahead.
Also in this month’s Wellness Issue, we have for you all that you’d need to stay the best version of you. From indulging your senses in the essential oils to treating your bodies with the healthiest foods, to looking your best with the wardrobe must-haves, we’ve got you all covered. Also, do check out our special feature on the Fit and Fabbest hot-bods of Bollywood from Gen Now. Flip the pages for all this and more.
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Further ahead we have interviews with Bollywood heartthrobs Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, who we had met up in Dubai. We also spoke to K-Pop sensation Aoora, who is the first artiste to release an Indo-Korean single ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ that has become quite the rage. Then there are interviews with our second cover star - the multi-talented Zenofar Fathima, celebrity fitness trainer Namrata Purohit, filmmaker Anu Menon, actors Sanya Malhotra and Sanjay Kapoor, and the Indian Matchmaking Aunty from Mumbai - Sima Taparia, amongst others.
This month is also a treat for movie buffs as the avalanche of good content after Oppenheimer continues in theatres. First off is Barbie, the much-awaited Greta Gerwig movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling that releases in theatres. Honestly, Robbie’s versatility as she blends into the skin of her characters is simply phenomenal and I can’t wait to see her own up Barbie just as brilliantly on screen. Also I did quite love what Google’s done to celebrate the movie as the screen bursts into pink-coloured sparks before settling into a pinkish-tinged page when you key in the word Barbie on the search bar. Cute!
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The other movie that I’ve personally loved and would totally recommend is Gran Turismo directed by Neill Blomkamp. This inspiring movie follows the incredible journey of Jann Mardenborough, a struggling working-class gamer who harbours a dream of becoming a race car driver. Based on real life, it grips you emotionally, thrills you right till the end and speeds straight into your hearts. The captivating story of passion and dedication alongwith exceptional performances especially by David Harbour and Archie Madekwe make this one an absolute must-watch. Meanwhile, from the desi platter, our pick would be the Rajinikanth starrer Jailer and Akshay Kumar - Pankaj Tripathi’s OMG 2. So, make sure you book ahead for these and happy viewing!
Also to all our readers, here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Independence Day!
EIGHT YEARS AFTER DILWALE, KAJOL AND KRITI SANON TEAM UP FOR DO PATTI!
SHAHID KAPOOR’S DOUBLE ROLE COMEDY TO CLASH WITH KARTIK
AARYAN’S CHANDU CHAMPION
TRY THESE ESSENTIAL NATURAL OILS TO ENHANCE THAT WELLNESS FACTOR
OUR COVER STARS KARAN KUNDRRA AND TEJASSWI PRAKASH IN A CANDID CONVERSATION WITH AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE TALK ABOUT THEIR PASSION FOR WORK AND EACH OTHER, REVEAL THEIR POWER EQUATION, SHARE SOME INTIMATE SECRETS AND SPILL THE BEANS ON THE M WORD – MARRIAGE!
CHECK OUT THE FITTEST AND THE HOTTEST GEN NOW STARS OF B-TOWN
GET UP, CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH SANYA MALHOTRA
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY : @VISUALAFFAIRS_VA
FOR KARAN KUNDRRA
STYLED BY : @SHARANYA_CHANDNA
ASSISTED BY : @ANAMIKAJAIN__
WEARING : @KUDRATCOUTURE
HAIR : SAHIL KHAN
MAKEUP : MANGESH R GHADGE
FOR TEJASSWI PRAKASH
STYLED BY : @NATASHAABOTHRA
TEAM : @MAUMSI_MITRA_ @BHAVINI.12 @PRIYANKAA.A_91
OUTFIT : @BENNUSEHGALLOFFICIAL
HAIR : @GO.GLAM.GAURI
JEWELLERY : @VIANGEVINTAGE @STUDIOVIANGE
BRACELETS : @EQUIIVALENCE
FOOTWEAR : @AUGUSTHAOFFICIAL
GO FIT WITH THESE HEALTHY POWER FOODS
ZENOFAR FATHIMA SHARES HER EXCITEMENT AS HER SERIES SPECTER: BLACK OUT PREMIERES ON THE OTT
VARUN DHAWAN GETS CANDID WITH AAKANKSHA NAVALSHETYE ABOUT HIS HUNGER FOR CHALLENGING AND UNCONVENTIONAL ROLES
K-POP STAR AOORA TALKS TO AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE ABOUT MAKING WAVES WITH THE FIRST EVER INDOKOREAN SONG
INDIAN MATCHMAKING’S BELOVED AUNTY FROM MUMBAI –SIMA TAPARIA CHATS UP WITH AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE ABOUT HER EMMYNOMINATED SHOW
THE LAUNCH OF ELITZ 3 WAS ONE OF THE MOST HAPPENING EVENTS THAT ROCKED DUBAI
CHECK OUT SOME FUN BEHIND THE SCENE MOMENTS BETWEEN SANJAY DUTT AND ARSHAD WARSI AS THEY SHOOT A NEW COMMERCIAL FOR DANUBE PROPERTIES
HERE’S OUR PICK OF THE BEST IN MOVIES AND OTT SHOWS THIS AUGUST
KAJOL REVEALS HER FILMS DDLJ AND K3G HAVE ‘SPOILT’ KARWA CHAUTH
Kajol said that her lms Dilwale Dulhania
Le Jayenge and Kabhi
Khushi Kabhie Gham have ruined the festival of Karwa Chauth for all men and women. Recently, in an interview with an entertainment portal, Kajol said, “Karwa Chauth in K3G and Dilwale Dulhania
Le Jayenge has spoilt Karwa Chauth for all men and women. Now they have to wear good clothes. Earlier, it was just a simple ceremony. Suddenly Karwa Chauth became this big function, a fashion deal where everyone has to get dressed. Women have to wear jewellery, poori dukaan ban kar baith jao bas Bhookh bhi chalegi as long as you are looking good while you are starving.” Ha! True that.
KRITI SANON LAUNCHES HER PRODUCTION COMPANY
Kriti Sanon announced the launch of her production company, on Instagram, marking the beginning of a new phase in her life. After around ten years in the lm business, the Adipurush actor is now a producer, as stated in the caption:”It’s time to shift the gear!”
a bird’s-eye view of show town’s happenings
SHAH RUKH KHAN AND SUHANA KHAN’S NEXT WITH SUJOY GHOSH BEGINS IN OCTOBER
Shah Rukh Khan is known to surprise his fans and the cine going audience with his choices of lms. While he is all set to have two more releases in 2023 after Pathaan, it was recently con rmed that King Khan is teaming up with his daughter, Suhana Khan for the rst time. The lm in question will be directed by Sujoy Ghosh and produced by Red Chillies Entertainment with Mar ix Pictures. According to our sources, the lm will go on oors in the month of October. The lm will be shot in India and abroad and be positioned as one of the biggest theatrical attractions of 2024.
VARUN DHAWAN TO WORK WITH ATLEE
Cine1 Studios and A For Apple Studios have come together to create a cinematic extravaganza, featuring one of Bollywood’s most dynamic actors, Varun Dhawan, in the lead role. The highly anticipated lm, will be presented by Atlee, a name synonymous with blockbuster hits and promises to be an adrenaline-pumping action spectacle. Penned and helmed by acclaimed lmmaker Kalees, the movie is set to be a high-octane rollercoaster ride lled with thrilling moments and largerthan-life action sequences. The project will be jointly produced by Murad Khetani and Priya Atlee
DO PATTI: KRITI SANON, KAJOL AND KANIKA DHILLON TEAM UP FOR A MYSTERY THRILLER
Kriti Sanon and Kajol are all set to team up for a mystery thriller lm.
Titled Do Patti, the lm is actor-turned-producer Kriti’s maiden project from her newly announced production house Blue Butter y Films. As per a press release, Do Patti starring Kriti Sanon and Kajol in lead roles will be set in the hills of North India. Along with Kriti, writer Kanika Dhillon is also on board as a producer. Do Patti marks Kriti Sanon and Kajol’s onscreen reunion after eight years since Dilwale’s release. So far, details about the plot and the lm’s director have not been revealed.
SHAHID KAPOOR’S DOUBLE ROLE COMEDY TO CLASH WITH KARTIK AARYAN’S CHANDU CHAMPION
Anees Bazmee and Shahid Kapoor are keen to bring their yet untitled comedy on Bakri Eid 2024 weekend. The lm will go on oors in August. It’s a big-budget action comedy, with Shahid Kapoor in his most commercial avatar to date. Now we have heard that it might clash with the Kartik Aaryan starrer Chandu Champion helmed by Kabir Khan
The Shahid Kapoor movie stars Rashmika Mandanna as the female lead. It is produced by Dil Raju. “The lm and its subject are apt for the Bakri Eid festival. Bakri Eid is celebrated by the masses and the yet-untitled double-role comedy will have all the elements for the mass audience,” a source shared.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SHEKHAR KAPUR’S MASOOM SEQUEL
Masoom, directed by Shekhar Kapur, featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in the lead is a cult favourite. Shekhar Kapur who recently helmed What’s Love Got To Do With It ? got candid about the storyline of the sequel. He was quoted on a leading entertainment portal, stating, “When you talk to people about home, the rst thing they say is that it is property, it is real estate and the second thing they say is ‘What’s it worth?’ The real estate value of your house becomes much more important than what the essential idea for a home is. And home is, what is it? It is memories – people growing up, the walls have memories, the sofa where you sit down is a memory. Everything is a memory. So I’m taking that fundamental idea of what is home.” His intention is solely to tell a simple story.
MR AND MRS
MAHI TO BE RELEASED NEXT MARCHDR. SANA SAJAN Director of American Aesthetic Medical Center
DERMAL FILLERS V/S ANTI-WRINKLE INJECTIONS
MANY PATIENTS ARE STILL CONFUSED ABOUT VARIOUS TERMS LIKE INJECTABLES, ANTI-WRINKLE INJECTIONS, DERMAL FILLERS, SKIN BOOSTERS AND COLLAGEN STIMULATORS.
These fall into 3 main categories.
-Anti-wrinkle injections restrict muscle movement. They smoothen lines by stopping excessive muscle movement.
- Dermal fillers work by filling in and replacing lost volume in the skin that has occurred over time, enhancing features, or correcting asymmetry.
Skin boosters or skin hydrators improve skin quality through superficial injections.
- Collagen stimulators stimulate the body to produce more natural collagen.
The treatment is very safe and relatively simple but the key is having an experienced practitioner who can achieve natural looking results. A procedure repeated every 4-6 months.
Not without potential side effects, this is a medical procedure that should be performed in a medical clinic environment. High movement areas around the mouth may need follow up in 6 months but areas like cheeks and tear troughs can have results for 1-2 years.
co-starsby Sharan Sharma
Roohi Janhvi Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao are set to reunite in a sports drama Mr And Mrs Mahi. The actors have already wrapped the movie. Now, the makers have announced the release date of the movie. The tweet from Dharma Productions read, “One dream, chased by two hearts! Directed Sharan Sharma, starring Rajkummar Rao & Janhvi Kapoor - #MrAndMrsMahi is arriving on the pitch on 15th MARCH, 2024 - in cinemas near you!”
They are superficial and add hydration to the surface of the skin for a natural glow and radiance Also called ‘skin conditioning’ to distinguish it from dermal fillers. A popular procedure on the neck, décolletage, and the back of the hands.
The product restores facial volume by activating fibroblast cells in the skin to produce new collagen. Unlike dermal fillers there is less chance of bruising or downtime and the results are gradual with improvements lasting around 2 years before a top up treatment is needed.
He is Prince Charming, while she is the Queen of Hearts! Setting hearts ablaze with their sizzling chemistry, it’s easy to see why this adorable couple rule the ratings and hearts alike. Power, passion, love… their love story is all this and more. We caught up with B-Town stars Karan Kundrra and Tejasswi Prakash in Dubai and instantly fell in love with them. Devoid of any ‘for the camera’ pretences, the two are goofy, fun, vibrant and extremely endearing. And unlike most couples, the two insist that their love story is not perfect, but an imperfectly perfect one. Cupid first struck when the two met as contestants on the reality show Bigg Boss and while Tejasswi walked away the winner, Karan walked away winning her heart! Two years since, the duo are as inseparable as ever and rule the social media roost as #TejRan a tag created by their fan ‘families’, as the duo prefer calling them. As we settle in for a no filters, candid conversation, the two talk about love, work and everything under the sun!
whatever I want to do.
Both of you are such celebrated names and enjoy a huge fan following globally, especially in the Middle East and India, what do you think has boosted that love and craze, what’s the secret there?
Karan : I think it’s the dubbing (laughs). Our audience has seen us talking in Arabic and even multi-culturally, the content that we’ve been working on from the past so many years not only gets dubbed and gets shown in all these countries, but finds a great connect too. Egypt, Lebanon, here, and I think it’s a beautiful thing. They love our culture, and they associate with it.
Tejasswi : Yes, I think they also love the drama… And through these shows they relate to us, the characters that we portray, and the actors that we are. Many a times, they expect us to speak their language for real too.
But you both do have a crazy fan following!
TejRan Army is huge…
Tejasswi : Yes, the TejRan fam. We are blessed to be so loved.
What is that one thing that makes you so relatable that people feel an instant connect?
Tejasswi : I think, just keeping it real. I feel like a lot of people, especially the ones that are in front of the camera, actors, when they are a couple, they try and show it as the most perfect love story or like the ideal boy and girl, and I think the fact that we never really try to do that keeps it real. And that was very clear from the beginning. Especially with all of the fights and everything we had in the show (Bigg Boss), we kept it in a very real zone, and which is why it was always termed as the imperfectly perfect love story. We just kept it real. We never tried to show ourselves as a perfect couple or there’s absolutely nothing wrong with us.
Karan : Also I think people fell in love with us while we were falling in love with each other. So they knew what was happening, they saw everything, and I think that’s one thing that helped.
Tejasswi : Yes, they’ve seen the entire journey and have been with us on that.
But being under public scrutiny constantly in terms of people - watching you, judging you, loving you - especially being so popular on the social media, do you ever feel that pressure on your relationship, since there are a lot of personal facets to it as well.
Tejasswi : There’s no pressure as such, but I do try and avoid it when I can. Like I try and post as less as possible about us. I try and keep it as intimate and not put it all out there. I think he is the loud one (laughs). He loves to put it out there. I like to really just keep it to myself, especially about us. Karan : Yeah, but I am a little different. You know, with the love, there’s a lot of hate that comes in too. But I don’t let my equations be swayed by either their good or bad. What I feel for Teju is not going to change by what the fans like or hate. I am myself and she is she! And I can’t stop being that person, I can’t stop living my life my way, because I’m worried about what they have to say. Because if I do, then they win. So, I have a big ‘You do you and I do me’ attitude and I’ll do
So are shows, movies and work the usual table talk. Do you both discuss scripts before taking on any project?
Karan : It’s normal like every other couple that has their futures aligned. It’s pretty much as any guy coming and talking to his partner
“…Always go with what your heart feels. There’s no theory or there’s no formula for relationships so figure it out for yourself.
‘ki ye aaya hai, yeh karna chahiye, aise hona chahiye.’ Even today she was giving me some suggestion, so yes, not necessarily table talk, food is priority there, but we do discuss work.
Tejasswi : The final decisions are our own, but suggestions are definitely seriously considered.
So, what’s happening on the work front?
Tejasswi : It’s been busy as always. See, offers are always there, but I don’t think they were exciting, or just important enough. I want to wait for something as important, and something that really excites me now. There’re some interesting ones, so let’s see.
What about Bollywood?
Tejasswi : Yes, why not? But not just for myself, I do want films to start doing well irrespective of me being a part of it or not. I think it’s extremely important that we start getting people back in the theatres. So, I want films to start doing well again. And I love the fact that there’s a massive demand for great stories, also women centric films - a space where I can actually perform and show my credibility. So, I think there’s space for that now that people are only and only entering the theatres if it is like a legitimately good movie which kind of forces everybody to put up some great content and great content only, which is amazing. So, I think I’m looking forward to some better offers than the ones that I already have.
What’s your take on actors being stereotyped, have you ever had to face that or you’re getting all kinds of roles?
Tejasswi : Not really… There have been all kinds of offers and not just in the space of Naagin or anything just in terms of television. I don’t think I
fall into any specific image like that. I feel like there’s still a lot of me that people haven’t really seen and there’s still a lot of me that’s still not challenged enough. And I love challenges and I’d like some massive challenges that push me for something better than I probably know about myself. So, I don’t think there’s any sort of restriction. Lately with how open people are getting about getting somebody from television, somebody from a reality show, or I’ve even seen influencers for that matter, getting and doing films. I think what it comes down to is if you’re bankable enough. If there’s something that you’re a part of, it’s not just something that they’ll like to see on a free television or free Instagram but it’s something that people would love to pay for and actually get into theatre just to watch you is what is important. That makes an actor. And I think I have enough faith in the people who love me.
Karan, you have done reality shows, Bollywood, television, music videos... So how do you look back at how you have evolved as an actor and your journey over these years?
Karan : You know, I don’t have a Godfather or a Godmother in the industry. Aur hamari toh voh haalat thi, ki stereotype hone ke liye pehle type to ho jao (laughs). So, where we come from, we didn’t have the option of thinking about getting stereotyped. Woh stereotype hone ke liye hi 400 log
We never try to cover up our flaws and we always try to speak about how beautiful even the flaws are in a relationship and how they can get you back together and stronger. And also, the fact that whenever we’re together, people end up seeing it in our eyes. You really can’t fake it.
baithe hain baahar. So, when I look back, I see humongous amount of hard work. Humongous number of challenges that I had overcome. And yes even broken stereotypes. So, if I stop here, it will be in the middle of the journey. But 10 years down the line, I would be known as the person who’s done everything and broken all stereotypes. So it’s all about persistence. It’s all about maintaining a relevance with good quality work. When I talk to people who like my work, that’s such a varied lot, because some people like me from the MTV show, some people like me because of Bigg Boss. Some people like me purely because of the characters that I played as long as 10 years back. So I would say I’ve been very brave. But again, it’s very different now. At the end of the day if I want to stay relevant, I think would be a big challenge. Because we don’t have people creating stuff for us specifically ki aa jao yaar tum to ghar ke ho, tumhare liye picture launch kar dete hain. No, we don’t have that. So whatever we want, we have to do it on our own. This is how it was and this is how it will be. I guess we’ll be the people who will be helping out other people break in. so yeah, I would call my journey very brave.
You have stood out with your roles, and your performances in all have been very impactful irrespective of their length. How are you on sets –intense, method actor kinds?
Karan : I am the most fun person on sets. I’m the clown on set. But I belong to a team, and we’ve been thoroughly trained. So the moment I hear rolling, and that gap between roll, sound and action, everything just disappears and I do what I am meant to be doing. You know, there are few takes where I’m supposed to be in an extreme zone. But yeah, I’ve been like this and now a lot of people know about it… saari image kharab ho gayi meri (laughs). But yeah,
you’ve got to enjoy your life. It’s the journey that counts, not the destination. Whatever it is, jahaan tak pahuch gaye ho usko bhi appreciate karo. Jahaan pahunchna hai vo to hai hi, but yaha par bhi badi mehnat se pahunche ho. So, enjoy yourself, wherever you are, have fun.
Absolutely. And you have tided over the highs and lows beautifully too. The good thing is that you both have each other. So, what is it that Tejasswi has brought to your life that was missing?
Karan : Everything, I think. There’s no one particular thing I can highlight really. We’d met in very difficult circumstances (in Bigg Boss). They challenge you, they try to break you and the format is such that they will test you, because that’s the show, that’s the fun part of the show. But I think there’s a lot of calm in my life because of her. There’s a lot of understanding about the world. I’m not very worldlywise. She’s smarter. She’s way smarter and she’s way more worldly which I’m not. I’m very dreamy, she’s very real. I think I’ve grown a lot as a person with her.
What about you Tejasswi?
Tejasswi : There’re a lot of things that I get to learn from him. He is obviously senior and there’s a lot of seriousness for work that he’s brought. There’s a lot of decision taking that he does for me. There’s a lot of ‘in me’ that I don’t see and he does. And he’s such a great talker that somehow, I feel it makes me look like such a better person than I actually am. So I’m not sure if I’m like worthy of all the compliments. He always makes me look nice and makes me sound nice in front of people.
Karan : There’s no smoke without fire.
So, is marriage on the cards?
Karan : I think we’ve been having a lot of discussions and she’s been absolutely busy since Bigg Boss because after that Naagin started. So, it’s been under
a lot of things are happening workwise. So I think the major decision is about to happen somewhere and we also want to know…
Tejasswi : I don’t think we’ve had the time to figure that yet.
What makes TejRan so special… power, passion...
Karan : Lots of passion. Both of us are very passionate about whatever we do.
Tejasswi : So I think it’s just the fact that we’re just one of them. And it’s just so relatable for everybody out there. And it’s also the fact that we never try to cover up our flaws and we always try to speak about how beautiful even the flaws are in a relationship and how they can get you back together and stronger. And also, the fact that whenever we’re together, people end up seeing it in our eyes. You really can’t fake it.
I think I can catch a couple like that and I’m like ‘zero chemistry, what is that!’ and I feel like we’re just so real and so relaxed with each other, there’s a lot of friendship, there’s a lot of love and lot of power together and passion together, and just everything. We’re just honest and it’s so evident. I think that’s what makes us what we are today.
Karan : I think one thing which I have also learned through Tejasswi is to start loving your flaws. Even in the house she used to say that we’re the most imperfectly perfect love story. And so, the past two years that I’ve spent with her, I’ve started being okay with the flaws. I’ve not been very critical about it and I think that is also our relationship. That is what makes it relatable also. The power is not recognizing the power, its way more fun
where there is power but not seen. The other person sees it.
With both of you in the limelight constantly, there’s obviously power dynamics as well. So how do you keep the professional equations out of the personal space?
Tejasswi : I don’t know. I feel that that can never happen because we’re two very different leagues. There’s never going to be like ever a time where we could ever clash. I mean that’s what I feel. It is a given. He’s senior. Like he’s literally been there. And I’ve not even started. I haven’t even begun. So, it’s so different that there could never be a comparison or a clash. I think we’re both on a very different independent journey.
Karan : Agar hoga bhi, it’s going to end up pushing us to do better.
Tejasswi : I don’t understand how that’s going to happen. There nothing in common.
Karan : In a lot of relationships, there’s oneperson who’s extremely successful perhaps and the other person is not as much and then the tides tend to change too…
Tejasswi : But I don’t think we care.
Karan : That’s right. We too have our issues no doubt, but honestly they are more on the lines of ‘did you eat my burger’ (laughs).
Tejasswi : Yes, that is very important. Food is extremely important. I can give you so many instances like that. Like I have a list that these things are important.
What’s the one thing that you’d want to change about each other?
Karan : Yeh to bahut lamba interview ho jayega (laughs). No, I don’t think anything. I think that’s what makes me love her the way she is.
Tejasswi : He gave such a sweet answer, I already had a list ready in my head, but now nothing (laughs)!
Karan : I think our chemistry is like that.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Tejasswi : I think ice-creams post-midnight.
Karan : Food! Period… We may be dieting, but then there’s a 12.30 pizza night
Tejasswi : He watches these food videos on YouTube, that’s his serious guilty pleasure. Actually mine too. That’s my massive, super guilty pleasure.
Karan : Yes that’s true… if it comes to food, she can cross oceans. Open her feed on Instagram and you’ll see her exploring only food.
Tejasswi : You know if you ask me if I’ve ever stalked anyone on Instagram? I haven’t! I don’t care about people. I don’t stalk people. I only stalk food recipes. I’ll never stalk an actor or anything, I don’t care about
stalking them if there’s nothing about food on their profiles.
What is the one song that comes to your mind for each other?
Karan : For me, its ‘Tu hai to mujhe phir aur kya chahiye’ Tejasswi : Really? You’ve never said that to me.
Karan : When you hear that song… my life has been the same. I used to be a very different person, I used to go out a lot and I used to do this and that. And now I’m very like - as long as she’s with me and I’m with her! That’s all that matters. You know, you think so much that you want to do this and that, but now it’s like whatever
want to do it with her!
What is that one relationship advice that you want to give out to people in love?
Karan : I don’t think relationships should be taken as per any advice. It’s your own journey. What I feel about her, what she feels about me, this relationship is very different than what you are facing in your life. So always go with what your heart feels. There’s no theory or there’s no formula for relationships so figure it out for yourself. Don’t take advice. Aap ke papa mummy ki alag chemistry thi, tumhe apni alag chemistry banani hai
PILATES TRAINER NAMRATA PUROHIT HAS ALWAYS PUT A PREMIUM ON BEING FIT. SHE EXPLAINS HER HOLISTIC APPROACH TOWARDS HEALTH TO TANISHABHATTACHARYA
has been into sports from a young age, being a national-level squash player and a state-level football player. At the mere age of 16, she became the youngest ever Stott Pilates trainer. Her family history includes her father, Samir Purohit, who has found Pilates to be a life-changing experience. Together, they co-founded their Pilates Studio which has become a hub for celebs to achieve their fitness goals. Her extensive Bollywood clientele includes names like Malaika Arora, Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Varun Dhawan, Bipasha Basu and Arjun Kapoor, to name a few. We talk to the trainer, as she opens up about her fitness mantras
PILATES IS GOING TO GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH OF A WARRIOR BUT THE LEAN AND FLEXIBLE BODY OF A DANCER. SO IT’S THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BOOK, THE LAZY GIRL’S GUIDE. YOU WERE ONLY 20 WHEN IT WAS PUBLISHED Funny story: I was driving home from college one day. I got a call from Random House, India, and they said, “Hi Namrata, This is Random House India; would you like to write a book for us?” I thought someone was playing a prank on me. I literally didn’t know what to say and cut the call. I called my mom, I was 16
and didn’t realise Random House is such a huge publication house. My mom was like, “It’s huge; please call them back and talk to them.” So I called them back and they again said, “Would you like to write a book for us?” I was like, “Yeah, I haven’t written a book before but sure, I can try.” I actually love writing. I write a lot of poems. I wrote the book at 17 or 18. The book was published
when I was 20 and I never thought I would author a book. I loved writing it. I guess more are to come. Especially now, I am hoping to write a book almost 10 years after my first book. There have been a lot of experiences, and a lot of things I have learnt during this period, which have evolved my thought process.
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CELEBRITY CLIENT, AND HOW DID YOU TURN INTO A CELEBRITY PILATES TRAINER?
The first few celebs I trained were Manasi Scott, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bipasha Basu and Malaika Arora. Malaika’s been with me for more than 10 years now. These were the first few people who came to me. It was all word of mouth. It wasn’t like we did any marketing. We had someone walk in, they liked it, they told someone—that’s just how it went. Just like a domino effect. And touchwood, a lot of people have trusted us with their fitness journeys, from the sports world to the film industry in general. It is quite amazing. You get to meet so many different people from different walks of life and you help them on their fitness journey and achieve their goals.
SARA ALI KHAN, JANHVI KAPOOR, ADITYA ROY KAPUR, VARUN DHAWAN, KAREENA KAPOOR KHAN AND MALAIKA ARORA—ALL A-LISTERS ARE YOUR CLIENTS. HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING DIFFER FROM PERSON TO PERSON?
For the first class, I would look at their body type, their goals, how much time they have in
hand, what their look might be for a certain role or film, and what their body is required to do—maybe a dance?
Janhvi had to do a cricket film, so her exercises revolved around her getting an athletic build. It depends on all these things. Also, their general body type and their lifestyle. Once you start seeing people’s body types, postures, goals, and lifestyles, you put all that together and design a workout based on all these four aspects. Each person is different. They have different lifestyles on different timelines. So I consider all these things, put them together, and see what might work best for them. The most important thing is that they achieve their goals in a sustainable way. It should not be that it can cause injuries. It should be an enjoyable journey. It should make them achieve their goals but leave them energised. So keeping all these things in mind, I plan the workouts.
CELEBS LIKE MALAIKA ARORA ARE WELL AWARE OF DIFFERENT FITNESS REGIMES. DO YOU TAKE IN THEIR INPUT AS WELL?
Over the years, we have all seen Malaika as someone who is focused and dedicated. I started training Malaika when I was 16 or 17. She was quite established and someone we all looked up to in terms of fitness,.When I started training her, the one thing I learnt the most was that consistency pays off more than anything else. She is also someone who eats
and understands her body and is not afraid of listening to her body and taking a day off. She’s in tune with her body. At a young age, seeing that, I was like, “Yeah, it is important to listen to your body because see how it is repaying her now.”
EACH PERSON IS DIFFERENT. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT LIFESTYLES ON DIFFERENT TIMELINES. SO I CONSIDER ALL THESE THINGS, PUT THEM TOGETHER, AND SEE WHAT MIGHT WORK BEST FOR THEMWith Sonakshi Sinha With Sara Ali Khan With Janhvi Kapoor
FITNESS FREAKS MEn's Actives
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Nature’s ESSENTIAL For Wellness gifts
ESSENTIAL OILS CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN KEEPING YOUR BODY AND MIND FIT. THERE ARE MORE THAN 90 TYPES OF ESSENTIAL OILS WITH THEIR UNIQUE SMELLS AND USES. PRACTITIONERS USE THEM IN NATURAL AND ALTERNATIVE HEALTH PRACTICES, SUCH AS AROMATHERAPY AND NATUROPATHY. HERE’S CHECKING OUT SOME OF THE MOST USED ESSENTIAL OILS
HERBAL AND LIGHTLY FLORAL
Lavender can help with stress, pain, sleep, mood improvement, soothes sundamaged skin
TEA TREE OIL
SHARP AND CAMPHOR-LIKE
Tea tree oil can used as be antiseptic, antimicrobial or antifungal. Used for acne and Athlete’s foot and ringworms.
LEMONGRASS OIL BERGAMOT OIL
A MEDIUM CITRUS WITH A STRONG HERBAL BASE
Lemongrass oil has a strong citrus scent and is known to help relieve stress, anxiety and depression. Use a carrier oil before applying to your skin.
STRONG, FRESH, AND GREEN HERBAL BASE
The oil, which has a fruity and floral aroma, can be diffused or applied topically with a carrier oil. It is known to reduce anxiety, lift mood, lower blood pressure.
WARM AND EARTHY, HEAVY WITH FRUIT-LIKE UNDERTONES
Treating skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, or dry, cracked skin easing symptoms of conditions like colds, headaches, and stomach upset, relieving depression and providing feelings of relaxation and helping to ease stress or anxiety
PUNGENT, FRESH, AND GREEN
The oil, which has a fruity and floral aroma, can be diffused or applied topically with a carrier oil. It is known to reduce anxiety, lift mood, lower blood pressure
YLANG YLANG OIL
SWEET AND INTENSE, AN EXOTIC FLORAL
This floral oil is used for relaxing and soothing, hydrating, tension and stress relief.
FRESH, WOODY, AND SPICY
Ginger and ginger oil have been used to help ease nausea, relieve from arthritis pain, help with an upset digestion, treat colds and migraines.
YOUR POWER FOOD GUIDE FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS
CHIA SEEDS CONTAIN ANTIOXIDANTS, MINERALS, FIBER, AND OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS.
-LOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
-MAY SUPPORT WEIGHT LOSS
-MAY LOWER YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE
FLAXSEED PROVIDES A GOOD AMOUNT OF PROTEIN, FIBER, AND OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS. IT MAY HELP LOWER THE RISK OF SOME CANCERS, HELP MAINTAIN A HEALTH WEIGHT, AND REDUCE CHOLESTEROL AND BLOOD PRESSURE.
- LOADED WITH NUTRIENTS
- HIGH IN OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
- RICH IN FIBER
- LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
FLAX SEEDS BERRIES
BERRIES ARE AMONG THE HEALTHIEST FOODS ON EARTH BERRIES TASTE GREAT, ARE HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS, AND PROVIDE MANY HEALTH BENEFITS, INCLUDING FOR YOUR HEART AND SKIN.
- LOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
-IMPROVE BLOOD SUGAR AND INSULIN RESPONSE
-HIGH IN FIBER
DARK CHOCOLATE IS RICH IN MINERALS, SUCH AS IRON, MAGNESIUM, AND ZINC. THE COCOA IN DARK CHOCOLATE ALSO CONTAINS ANTIOXIDANTS CALLED FLAVONOIDS
-POWERFUL SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS LOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
-IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW AND LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
-RAISES HDL AND PROTECTS LDL FROM OXIDATION
ITS CONSIDERED A SUPERFOOD BECAUSE IT IS PACKED WITH CALCIUM, PROTEIN, AND ACTIVE ‘GOOD’ BACTERIA WHICH HELPS KEEP THE GUT HEALTHY
- IMPROVES DIGESTION
- PROTECTS BONE HEALTH
- PREVENTS VAGINAL INFECTIONS
- WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
- ENHANCES BRAIN FUNCTION
ORGANIC YOGURT AVOCADO
AVOCADOS ARE A SOURCE OF KEY NUTRIENTS, INCLUDING HEALTHY FATS AND FIBER. THEY ALSO CONTAIN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND ANTIOXIDANT COMPOUNDS AND MAY HELP REDUCE HEART DISEASE RISK.
-PROMOTE A HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT
-A RICH SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY COMPOUNDS
-REDUCE HEART DISEASE RISK FACTORS
OATMEAL IS NUTRITIONALLY RICH. IT HAS MORE PROTEIN THAN MOST GRAINS AND ALSO CONTAINS NUMEROUS VITAMINS AND MINERALS. IT CONTAINS ANTIOXIDANTS AND A SOLUBLE FIBER CALLED BETA-GLUCAN, WHICH AIDS SEVERAL SYSTEMS OF THE BODY.
-BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
OLIVE OIL MAY OFFER HEALTH BENEFITS AS IT IS HIGH IN HEALTHY MONOSATURATED FATS AND ANTIOXIDANTS. IT ALSO HAS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES
-FANTASTIC SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS AND HEALTHY FATS
-HELP REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE
-HELP LOWER YOUR RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
-IMPROVE BONE HEALTH
CHECK OUT THE FITTEST AND HOTTEST GEN NOW STARS OF B-TOWN!
This young star has been known to showcase his abbedbod right from his debut. One of the fittest bods in the industry, Varun certainly scores a hight spot on this list.
Is there anything that this superstar can’t boast of…He packs in more than just a punch whether it’s his dance moves, acting histrionics or then his superhot chiseled bod.
He’s not your regular buff bod gym guy, but then Ranbir sure knows how to raise the temperatures when he needs to go shirtless. Lean and fit, Ranbir squeezes in a spot here.
Kartik may be the essential lover-boy, but he sure knows how to flaunt the 6 packs when needed. Certainly deserves his space among the fittest and the hottest Gen Now stars
This one’s an ‘abs’olute stunner when it comes to the six pack brigade. And this list can just not do without him.
He came in as a romantic lover-boy, but then scaled up the hot charts as he showed off those sizzling abs in films like Malang and Rashtra Kavach Om. Well, we do like this hot Night Manager for sure!
This Gentleman can set hearts racing in his hot avatar. Naturally lean and fit, Sidharth scores a spot on this list too.
This martial arts star swears by traditional forms and has a body to swear by too. Among the fittest and fabbest, Vidyut certainly shows how it’s done right.
AND NO LIST CAN EVER BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THESE 6 SUPERSTARS!
SHAH RUKH KHAN
OTT Space! Stormingthe
ZENOFAR FATHIMA’S FIRST EVER ESCAPE ROOM SERIES SPECTER: BLACK OUT SET IN UAE TO PREMIERE THIS AUGUST ON STARZPLAY
Zenofar Fathima, film director, producer, and Chief Executive Officer of boutique film production company Zen Film Productions is now set to launch her long-awaited escape room series Specter: Black Out this August on STARZPLAY, one of the region’s top three subscription video on demand services. The series delves into an ensemble of individuals from different walks of life who are mysteriously invited to visit an escape room for a casting call audition.
Directed by Zenofar Fathima and Afraah Farhana, Specter: Black Out is anticipated to make waves in the GCC, with the series being acclaimed as the first ever escape room series to ever be produced. “Of course, Specter: Black Out being one of the first ever escape room series is not to be taken lightly - it is a great accolade to have. I am very thrilled to have brought this vision to life and am even more excited for my fans and well-wishers to watch the series this summer on STARZPLAY,” says Fathima.
The project sees Fathima - who has directed and produced over 20 shorts on various topics such as COVID-19 and cyber extortion- combine her social activist filmmaking style with her wellknown penchant for the horror genre. “Horror was how I started making movies. It was the genre I had tested the waters with back when I kick-started my career in 2018. Social awareness, on the other hand, is the cornerstone of my every cinematic undertaking. It was very
crucial that I combined the two to produce a powerful narrative that can not only entertain and spook audiences but resonate with them too,” explained Fathima. The filmmaker promises audiences a powerful social commentary rooted in significant subjects and moral dilemmas, thereby putting a spin on typical escape room films and shows.
The escape room thriller also features a collaboration between Zen Film Productions and BlackOut Realistic Horror Escape Games as the official location partner for the series. BlackOut, a renowned escape room brand with branches located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is helmed by homegrown organization Cave Entertainment. “BlackOut’s escape rooms offer an immersive experience for all players, and truly transport you to another world entirely, ultimately making it a very fitting choice for the series,” said Fathima.
With the first episode set to launch this August, the series’ debut season is estimated to have five to
six episodes. Starring in the series’ ensemble cast includes Fathima, UAE lifestyle and fashion influencer Muhammad Junaid, award-winning emcee and host Joe Mohan, actor slash interior design entrepreneur Priya Telavvane, professionally trained method actor Allinson Louis Aranha, fashion designer slash actor Yasir Akhlaq and many more. Future episodes promise an additional lineup that will comprise more untapped talent of the GCC as well as seasoned celebrity actors and socialites.
Specter: Black Out is slated for release in August on STARZPLAY which is available for download on iOS, Android, and other internetenabled devices including smart TVs, and gaming consoles.
FROM WINNING HEARTS AS A MASS HERO TO WINNING ACCOLADES AS AN INTENSE ANGST-DRIVEN FAMILY MAN ON A REVENGE SPREE AND FROM EXPLORING THE BOLD SHADES AS AN ACTOR PLAYING A WEREWOLF ON SCREEN TO NOW DOING AN UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE STORY LIKE BAWAAL, FOR VARUN DHAWAN THE BIGGER THE CHALLENGE, THE MORE EXCITED THE ACTOR IN HIM IS TO PORTRAY THE ROLE ON SCREEN! WE MET UP WITH THE STAR IN DUBAI AHEAD OF BAWAAL’S RELEASE ON AMAZON PRIME. THE NITESH TIWARI DIRECTORIAL ALSO STARS JANHVI KAPOOR AND HAS BEEN PRODUCED BY SAJID NADIADWALA, WARDA NADIADWALA AND ASHWINY IYER TIWARI. TALKING ABOUT HIS ROLE IN BAWAAL, THE ACTOR REVEALED THE MAIN DRAW OF DOING THE FILM AND HIS BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM IT.
As an actor what has been your takeaway from Bawaal especially working with Nitesh Tiwari and what do you think will be the biggest takeaway for the audience after watching the movie?
Firstly, I was excited to be a part of Nitesh Sir’s creative vision. He is such a brilliant creator because he amalgamates so many areas of expertise such as from the advertising and now filmmaking world. His storytelling is extremely emotive and layered which I love. He has such clarity and knows how to draw out the best performance in us. As for what the biggest takeaway would be for audiences after watching the film –I’d have to say this is deeply rooted in the narrative. As audiences experience the film and the trajectory of the characters, I hope they will acknowledge the relentless human condition of constantly yearning for more, and never being fully satisfied with life as is, and the importance of really valuing and appreciating their loved ones more.
What made you say a yes to Bawaal – script or Nitesh Tiwari?
Yes of course the opportunity to work with a creative mastermind like Nitesh Sir and also hand-in-hand it has to be Bawaal’s unconventional take on the love story genre. It’s not just a romantic film but it is a journey of self-discovery, of evolving love, and confronting our inner conflicts, set against the backdrop of World War II. It’s about coming to terms with the conflicts in our human psyche. The script of Bawaal offered the chance to explore a complex and relatable character who undergoes a significant
MY FILM CHOICES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THE RESPECT FOR THE POWER OF STORYTELLING AND WHETHER A NARRATIVE GIVES ME A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO TRANSFORM INTO A DIFFERENT CHARACTER, AND ONE THAT RESONATES WITH AUDIENCES.
transformation throughout the movie. The mix of personal internal conflict, a unique, unconventional love story and the backdrop, drew me to the project.
Being a big screen star, does an OTT release dampen that excitement or the fact that you are reaching 200+ countries simultaneously heightens it?
Streaming platforms such as Prime Video have really opened up new avenues for reaching audiences worldwide. I mean, Bawaal will be streamed in 200+ countries, which is incredible. For a film like Bawaal, which has universal themes of love, conflict, and self-discovery, the OTT medium can definitely amplify its impact given its reach and its ability to foster a deeper connection with the narrative. Honestly, Bawaal is truly a global film with an Indian heart. I am sure it will resonate with audiences across the globe.
How much of the real Varun do we get to see in the character you play? Are there any similarities at all?
To be honest Ajay or Ajju Bhaiya is VERY different to the Varun in “real” life! It was interesting to portray a person who is so different and self-centered and the transformation Ajay, a history teacher living a life based on a fabricated image, undergoes when he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and love.
You have such a strong connect with the current Gen especially the kids, does that
affect your choice of films?
I guess my film choices are very much dependent on how much I personally connect to a narrative and how that will resonate with the audience it is intended for, whether Gen Z, X or a millennial!
What’s been the challenging and most exciting part about playing Ajju?
It was both a challenge and also rewarding to balance the lighthearted, popular and “fake” image of Ajay in his town, with the internal war he is fighting with himself and then to also evolve with him in his own transformative journey.
There are so many layers to his character which meant I had to dig deep into his psyche and motivations.
Since your debut, has the criteria of choosing a film changed?
My film choices have always been about the respect for the power of storytelling and whether a narrative gives me a unique opportunity to transform into a different character, and one that resonates with audiences.
You have built a very impressive repertoire of filmography, so would Bawaal be in your personal best?
Thank you so much! Bawaal is certainly high up there for me!
It’s certainly been a transformative experience for me, and I also feel audiences will say the same when they see the film.
The chemistry between you and Janhvi is being much appreciated, what was it working like with her? How’s she as a co-star? Working with Janhvi was wonderful. She’s delivered a phenomenal, nuanced performance especially as her role was not only emotionally, but physically challenging as well.
3 Reasons to watch Varun in Bawaal?
1. It’s not your usual love story
2. It’s a journey of selfdiscovery
3. And Nitesh Tiwari!
THE MIX OF PERSONAL INTERNAL CONFLICT, A UNIQUE, UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE STORY AND THE BACKDROP, DREW ME TO BAWAAL.
Raising bar! the
IN THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW JANHVI KAPOOR GETS CANDID WITH AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE ABOUT NAILING YET ANOTHER CHALLENGING ROLE WITH GREAT FINESSE
Janhvi kap r
JANHVI KAPOOR MADE HER DEBUT WITH DHADAK IN 2018 AND WITHIN A SHORT SPAN OF FIVE YEARS, THE ACTRESS HAS GONE ON TO SHOWCASE HER VERSATILITY IN A MULTITUDE OF ROLES. FROM GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL TO ROOHI, GOOD LUCK JERRY, MILI AND HER MOST RECENT OTT RELEASE BAWAAL THAT’S STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME, THE YOUNG STAR HAS CONSTANTLY BEEN EVOLVING WITH EACH SCREEN OUTING AND UPPING THE STAKES AS A PERFORMER. I CAUGHT UP WITH JANHVI KAPOOR IN DUBAI AS SHE AND TEAM BAWAAL – COSTAR VARUN DHAWAN, DIRECTOR NITESH TIWARI, AND PRODUCERS SAJID NADIADWALA, WARDA NADIADWALA AND ASHWINY IYER TIWARI - LAUNCHED THE TRAILER OF THEIR OTT RELEASE AT A MASSIVE GLOBAL EVENT HELD ABOARD THE FLOATING HOTEL, QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 CRUISE SHIP. AND IN OUR EXCLUSIVE TETE-A-TETE, THE ACTRESS TALKED ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF PLAYING NISHA IN THIS UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE STORY THAT HAS STRONG REFERENCES TO WORLD WAR II, HER ON-SCREEN CHEMISTRY WITH VARUN DHAWAN AND REVEALS WHAT SHE LOOKS OUT FOR IN A FILM BEFORE SAYING A YES!
What’s the first thing that makes you say a yes to any project?
Definitely a layered narrative, emotional depth of characters and how it resonates with audiences.
You have been very versatile in your choice of roles, be it Gunjan Saxena, Mili, Roohi or Ghost Stories… But what kind of roles or genres do you find most enjoyable?
I always look for characters that challenge me and that aren’t just onedimensional. Nisha in Bawaal is definitely one such character, who allowed me to learn something new about myself and the world around me too. Genres wise I’m open to all forms and have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to be a part of a diverse repertoire. But when it comes to enjoyment and immersing yourself into a film, the genre is really secondary – what’s key is the character’s journey and narrative.
How easy or challenging was it to play this character of a newly-wed in such an unconventional love story like Bawaal?
Playing Nisha was an emotionally challenging experience. Just like we all are, she is multifaceted and certainly not one-dimensional. I don’t want to share too much, and once the audience will watch the film, they will understand the wider context. My portrayal required a lot of sensitivity but thankfully with Nitesh Sir’s guidance, I think I did the best I could and really hope I have done justice to Nisha’s portrayal.
You had earlier
revealed that you had approached producer Sajid Nadiadwala for this film, so what about Bawaal made you want to be a part of it?
When I learned about Bawaal from Nitesh Sir, I was
I ALWAYS LOOK FOR CHARACTERS THAT CHALLENGE ME AND THAT AREN’T JUST ONEDIMENSIONAL.
challenging especially since it has strong references to WWII? I wouldn’t like to share too much about a specific scene, as that would mean sharing spoilers. I’d like audiences to watch the film first. What has been the most exciting part of working with Varun Dhawan? How was the equation on the sets? Working with Varun was brilliant experience – he’s so dedicated and full of energy. What struck me most about him was his complete immersion in his character, Ajju Bhaiya. It was much easier for me to bring Nisha to life because of his focus and intensity. What’s been the takeaway from working on the film and with Nitesh Tiwari?
Through Nisha’s growth and journey in the film, I was able to learn something new about myself and the world around me too. As for Nitesh
Sir, his past work speaks volumes about his ability to tell compelling stories. He’s really a genius. I love how his storytelling is just so emotive and layered and how he can authentically bring audiences to experience the emotions of the characters he projects.
Do you have a list of filmmakers you want to work with and costars? Did Nitesh and Varun feature in it? Yes of course! There are so many talented filmmakers and actors I’d love to collaborate with but I’m currently still on cloud nine after having the opportunity of working with Nitesh Sir and Varun.
Is it easy for you to disassociate with the character immediately or it takes time to come out of that mindspace? I think it’s taken some practice but isn’t always easy when you are immersed in someone else’s mindset for a period of time, especially when it’s an intense portrayal
WORKING WITH VARUN WAS BRILLIANT EXPERIENCE – HE’S SO DEDICATED AND FULL OF ENERGY. WHAT STRUCK ME MOST ABOUT HIM WAS HIS COMPLETE IMMERSION IN HIS CHARACTER.
immediately engaged. The storyline itself is extremely unique – honestly, it’s really not your average love story. I was also drawn to complexity of not only Nisha’s but Ajay’s (played by Varun Dhawan) character and the relationship they shared only adds further depth to Nisha’s character.
Any scene that you emotionally found very
2. She’s in a Nitesh Sir directorial!
Happiness is your own responsibility, not anyone else’s. Seek independence and seek validation from within. And not from anyone else
Sanya Malhotra starrer Kathal won a lot of applause. Suman Sharma asks her about her progress as an actor and more
Sanya Malhotra was praised for her role of a young cop in her recent release Kathal: A Jackfruit Mystery. She’s always been seen as a natural in front of the camera. Ask her about it and she plays it down, saying she’s only reacting to the director’s diktats. She’s as wide-eyed about the movies today as she was when she started off in Dangal (2016). Seven years have passed since then but she’s still gung-ho about putting on the greasepaint and facing the camera. Presenting excerpts from a candid interview with the fiery actress.
WHAT MADE YOU SIGN KATHAL?
This film came to me right after Pagglait, which has been one of my career-changing films. Producer Guneet Monga had given me a one-liner on Kathal, which was a unique concept. And it intrigued me. It had so much to offer, like comedy, drama and romance. Beside, there is an important social message attached to it, so it was the perfect sort of film that I as an actor was looking for.
DO YOU FEEL PRESSURED TO PERFORM BETTER EACH TIME?
Without a doubt. I wouldn’t describe it as pressure. But that’s the way it is. If you don’t do anything unusual or try anything new, you won’t know whether you’re good at it or not. So it is complacency, not pressure that scares me the most. I always believe that the day I become complacent is the day I should give up acting. My only goal as an actor is to keep trying new things and different characters and learning. That student
in me should never die.
YOU HAVE ALWAYS PORTRAYED STRONG CHARACTERS. ARE YOU ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SUCH FILMS?
100 per cent. I take it as a responsibility to portray women beautifully on screen. And I won’t take the entire credit for it because I feel there are so many good writers now, who are writing amazing characters. If we take Mahima in Kathal, I think the writers have written her with so much empathy, which I really admire. And I am glad to be a part of this change in the industry, where we are seeing some amazing female characters and female-led films.
ACTORS ARE OFTEN THEIR HARSHEST CRITICS. DO YOU CONCUR?
Yes, it is true in my case. I’ve realised that I can be hard on myself at times. It can be difficult for me to impress myself with my work. I’m not sure why. I’ve gotten better over the years, eversince Shakuntala Devi came out. I’ve practised not being so hard on myself and it has helped. I want to enjoy the entire release process because there will
be stress when the film is released. The truth is that I do not want to let go of the character or the film in which I was involved. Letting go takes time. We spend so much time with these characters. And in those two-three hours of the film, people come, judge you and leave. So I have a problem letting go.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO LET GO?
I have started celebrating the period where I am promoting the film. It is the last leg of making a film, where you celebrate your journey, where you are reliving your character’s life and what all she went through. It’s like when you are reading a book and,
at the end, you have to answer questions. It is an exam-like feeling. Now, I have started enjoying this whole process, like meeting the media and giving interviews. That has helped me let go of that attachment to what the audience will think. You have control over your character only until the time you shoot and until the time you are dubbing it. After that you have to leave the character, it doesn’t remain yours. That film doesn’t belong to you anymore. The script on which you have worked for years no longer remains yours. The character on which you worked so hard doesn’t
remain yours anymore. At the end of the day, it becomes a film that we give to the audience. So I think that has really helped me.
YOU STARTED WITH DANGAL, THEN MEENAKSHI SUNDARESHWAR, PAGGLAIT, AND NOW KATHAL. YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
I think I have experienced growth. And that growth is very sustainable. It is not that I have reached the peak and there is nothing left to do. That has not come into my life. After Dangal, Badhaai Ho was a major success. I have worked with Vishal Bhardwaj, Ritesh Batra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. There are so many good actors and good directors that I have worked with up until now. I find that this sort of growth is sustainable. Every year my film is released, every year I am able to entertain the audience, I mark it up as success. There was no dull moment in my career at all. And I really get a lot of love for my work, whether it is Pagglait or Meenakshi Sundareshwar, Ludo, or Badhaai Ho.
DO YOU SEE A CHANGE IN YOURSELF AS AN ACTOR AND AS A PERSON OVER THE YEARS?
I think I have become more confident. I have accepted myself the way I am. And also it has come with age, not just because of my work. Personally, I also feel comfortable being myself in front of the camera. And whenever I am meeting people because of my job, there is definitely a sense of confidence.
HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD THE INDUSTRY BETTER AFTER SEVEN YEARS?
I was in awe of my co-
stars earlier. Because I have been watching everyone since childhood and it took me five-six years to eliminate the excitement and the feeling of being star struck. Whatever time I have apart from shooting, I give it to my family and myself. Because it is easy when you become an actor for it to become your identity. You need a daily reminder that you have a life beyond acting.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT SHOOTING?
I stay at home. I don’t even go out. I like spending time at home a lot. One thing I don’t miss is my workout or being around my family.
WHAT GIVES YOU HAPPINESS?
Being around my family gives me the most happiness.
ARE YOU IN A HAPPY SPACE RIGHT NOW?
Of course. As I said, there is sustainable growth that I have been seeing. I think every year, I do different sorts of characters. And every year I see a major change in me as an actor and as a human. So that is what matters to me the most.
YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT
DANCER. ARE WE GOING TO SEE YOU DOING FILMS THAT HAVE DANCING AS A THEME OR CHOREOGRAPHING FOR SOMEONE?
Yes, I love dance, it’s my passion. I am still trying to find the perfect script. Because I honestly feel content is the hero now. I am looking for something that also has good content.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG GIRLS WHO SEEK HAPPINESS AND VALIDATION IN RELATIONSHIPS?
I think you should give yourself that validation. It should come from within before you expect other people to give you that validation. That validation shouldn’t be coming from a partner, if you completely rely on that, you might never be able to find happiness. So happiness is your own responsibility, not anyone else’s. Seek independence and seek validation from within. And not from anyone else.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST RELATIONSHIP LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT SO FAR?
In Meenakshi Sundareshwar one of
the most famous lines was, ‘Communication is the key to healthy relationships.’ We tend to assume a lot of things and choose not to share a lot of our thoughts when we are in a relationship, fearing that we might get judged. So if we share all of that and as much as possible with the person that we are with, we can keep the relationship going and healthy.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A RELATIONSHIP?
Vulnerability, I think. I really like people who are able to be vulnerable around others.
HOW MUCH DOES FINANCIAL SECURITY MEAN TO YOU?
For women, it is extremely crucial to be financially independent. Financial independence gives you a sense of security and confidence. You are treated in a certain way when you are independent. You can do so much with your own money. You can live the passions that you have always dreamed of. I think it is extremely crucial to be financially independent.
ARE YOU AN EMOTIONAL PERSON OR A PRACTICAL PERSON?
I am very emotional. Actually, I am both. Where there is a need to be.
I’ve realised that I can be hard on myself at times. It can be difficult for me to impress myself with my work. I’m not sure whyPagglait Meenakshi Sundareshwar Badhaai Ho
Storytelling of Art
As a filmmaker Anu Menon has always believed in telling stories that are relatable and yet push the audience to think beyond what is being shown. That they are largely driven by strong womencentric characters comes from a personal space and experiences as a woman. Now with her latest Neeyat starring the powerhouse performer Vidya Balan, she continues to push herself out of the comfort zone having attempted the murder-mystery genre. Not surprisingly, the filmmaker has hit bullseyes on all counts with presenting a taut edge of the seat thriller. As we catch up with the director, she talks to us about evolving as a filmmaker since her first, working with Vidya again, and a possible sequel being in the works
We have seen you explore very different genres altogether earlier, whether it was Waiting or London Paris New York. As a ﬁlmmaker how exciting was it tackling a murder mystery in Neeyat?
It’s definitely not an easy genre to write and to put together because it’s so intricate. It’s like putting together a puzzle, then you solve through it and make sure that the characters and the mystery delivers and there are no loopholes or lose ends. Also there’s a lot of dependency on physical stuff - there’s a storm, it’s a castle and there are all these characters and action sequences - it’s like having so many different kinds of pieces, you don’t want to pre-emp something, you don’t want to give away anything. It needs so much calibration all the time. It’s like a Swiss watch. I felt like this was the most intricate bit of work I’ve ever done.
And you’re working with Vidya Balan again after Shakuntala Devi. Is there a pressure that you have to do justice to her as an actor?
I think the way it works with Vidya is that once she has said yes, she’s on the journey with you. So, there’s no pressure there, just a partnership. Obviously when I’m pitching it to Vidya and even to the other actors, you’re like making sure that you’re using their abilities. Shakuntala Devi was like a Vidya Balan act in many ways. Neeyat is the opposite of that, which is the interesting part. That was a larger than life character, this one has to say so much without saying anything. So, it’s tricky in a whole other way. That’s the challenge that actors look for. To go on a journey which is a bit different from your last journey. I think all of us had to step out of our comfort zones to make this film and with Vidya, this journey has been amazing.
A character is often an extension of the filmmaker or the actor… So what about you and Vidya?
Well, I got a fringe after the show (laughs). See when Vidya and I talk character we talk a lot about from our lives. We’re really close to each other and we can go into some really dark places. So, there will always be a part of you which you explore, especially in these kinds of strong female characters. But just because you’re a strong female character doesn’t mean you’re strong all the time and you don’t make mistakes. When I got hired for Killing Eve, one of my producers said - I saw
your film Shakuntala Devi, she’s a lot like you, isn’t she, like that sort of infectious energy. And I was like, maybe that’s why I was attracted to her. So, many times you make all these choices not deliberately.
The film has been so wellreceived, is a sequel on the cards already?
I have the story for the sequel, and I called my producer and I said - okay this is what’s going to happen in Neeyat-2 and it was like okay!
Although the way that you handle your male characters is also commendable, your fabric innately tends to revolve around being women centric. So, is that by default that you get drawn towards such stories or is it a conscious thing?
When I write original stuff, I end up writing female characters because you write about things that you know, things that bother you, so you make that inherent choice. Also a lot of shows I got hired for were female-led because you tell strong female stories. I did recently direct a British show, which is not women centric.
Obviously, like Neeyat could have been made with a male detective. But I think when we wrote it, it just felt very obvious that this character is a female. I think it would
be interesting to get into this psyche of a male lead though and see how to change the male’s lead stories.
So, if you were to do a movie like you’re talking about, who is the one male actor that you would want to really work with?
It always depends on characters that you write eventually. But as a fan, I’m only fan of one actor and that’s Shah Rukh Khan!
How have you grown from your first movie till now… I think with every film I’ve definitely learnt a lot more about craft and the craft has become more polished. When you start a career all you want is: “Will somebody make my film?” That is the biggest fear. And then it is about: “Do people like my work?” But then later on you get into the space where you’re like: “Am I doing this the best possible way and am I employing everything that I’ve learnt?” That approach has happened in the last 3-4 years. And I think that you get better with each film, also, because I do so many different kinds of things and I go from working here and international, so you’re always on your toes. So, you have to keep your senses really sharp. I think that has also made me a little stronger. Now I’m much more confident when I go onto something which I’ve never done before. I think that’s really been the change
in the last few years.
Will we see more of your films coming out in the industry here considering you’re juggling between working in London too?
Yeah, and I love that. The worlds are merging, and I love living between two worlds because that’s the joy. Ultimately, I just feel like there are so many stories all over the place that need to be told and all kinds of untold stories that are waiting to be explored. So, I would never give up this aspect because this is so inherent to who I am. This fabric of storytelling. There is always going to be two parts of me - the part of me that lives in London and the part of me that comes from this. And I take some of this there and some of that here and play with it. And I think ultimately if I wake up feeling excited about something, I have to go after it irrespective of which industry it is in. I don’t think I’m trying to be next biggest something anywhere.
Do you think this is a great time to be in the industry to be a storyteller and doing the kind of movies especially that you do?
The times are always changing and I think you have to always concentrate on what you want to do. Because many a times what you want to do is always a few steps ahead. And that’s happened to me so many times where they are like no you cannot have a flawed female actor or female protagonist. If you want to push boundaries, there will always be resistance. And you got to find your tribe that says- we’re going to try and do it. I just don’t want to go for low hanging fruits. It’s a really difficult job. I’m not saying I hate it when I say it’s a hard job, there are jobs which are genuinely harder than ours. But it is painful, you got to put your heart out there for 2-3 years minimum. So, I think it has to be worth that battle. There is that sort of what works and what doesn’t work. But I don’t think anybody knows what works. The only thing you know is do you really want to do this or not. I think that is the only truth that you can chase and hope for the best.
Ifyouwanttopushboundaries, therewillalwaysberesistance. Andyougottofindyourtribe thatsays-we’regoingtotryand doit.Ijustdon’twanttogofor lowhangingfruits.
The Elitz Class
Danube Properties launched yet another landmark project Elitz 3 at a star-studded event in the presence of Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, Mr Rizwan Sajan and the B-Town stars Karan Kundrra and Tejasswi Prakash. The 40 plus amenities offered were showcased through a unique and fun interaction with the gorgeous couple. The grand entertaining evening hosted at Danube Sports World also had them unveil the August issue of Filmfare Middle East featuring them on the Cover. Check out the highlights of the mega-event!
DUBAI BOLLYWOOD! CALLING
CHECK OUT THE CELEBS WHO DROPPED BY AT THE DANUBE PROPERTIES OFFICE IN DUBAI
MUNNA BHAI CIRCUIT
IT WAS FUN UNLIMITED AS SANJAY DUTT AND ARSHAD WARSI GOT TOGETHER TO SHOOT A COMMERCIAL FOR DANUBE PROPERTIES! CHECK OUT SOME CANDID MOMENTS
It’s said that it’s easier to play a role you relate to. But you are playing a negative role here…
It’s not that when you do a death scene you can’t relate to the scene. Obviously, you’ve never died in your life, but you’ve seen it, you’ve heard about it. You have gone to funerals, you have lived that moment somewhere
ENTER THE VILLAIN
or the other, you relive that moment when you have to do something. You keep on reading about various gangsters in papers. There’s so much you retain subconsciously. And then if you have a director who is on the same page as you and trusts you to give your best, magic happens.
How is it working with Shahid Kapoor; you’ve worked with him before in Shaandaar.
I recently had an hour long conversation with him about the film. He came early to films and as he matured, he has gotten better. From Shaandaar onwards, he’s settled on a look that feels great on him. He looked the part and was good in every frame. It wasn’t
as if he was good just doing action. He was excellent in emotional scenes as well. I loved him in his scenes with his son. That love every father feels comes alive in his eyes in those scenes. He plays a man who is willing to go to any length to save his son and that’s what the audience found relatable. Even
when he’s knived, even when he has been shot at, you sort of know he’s somehow going to set the pain aside for the sake of his son. I’m passionate about my work and so is he. We gelled together on Shaandaar because of that and I had a great time working with him again.
Your elder brother, Anil Kapoor, too worked in the Hindi remake of the hit British series, The Night Manager and plays a negative role in it. Do you both compare notes when you meet?
No, we don’t. We’re both busy as hell and don’t get that much time to spend together. When we do meet, we try to talk about something
other than cinema. It’s not as if we don’t talk about films, or about the roles we have been doing. Of course we do. But we have a life beyond that and try to focus on other stuff. He’s a fantastic actor and has been fab in The Night Manager but we haven’t compared notes about how to go about essaying negative characters.
If you had to pick a role from like these recent OTT releases, what would you pick, whichrole would you play?
Recently I saw Manoj Bajpayee’s Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai. It’s a fantastic film which is so relevant to our times. And he has got a fabulous author-backed
role in it. So I would pick up that.
What’s in store for you in the future?
My next release is Merry Christmas, directed by one of my favourite directors, Sriram Raghavan. It has Vijay Sethupathi and Katrina Kaif in it as my co-stars. And then I’ve got Murder Mubarak which also has a fantastic ensemble cast comprising Vijay Varma, Pankaj Tripathi, Dimple Kapadia, Karisma Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan. It is basically a family style whodunit. It was great to be part of that film. Then I’ve got a web show coming up with Prakash Jha, called Lal Batti. That’s also complete. I’ve been shooting between
ABOUT HOW TO GO ABOUT ESSAYING NEGATIVE CHARACTERS
Allahabad, Lucknow and Delhi for it in recent times and seen parts of India which I always wanted to but somehow wasn’t able to. So that was a bonus. Then I’ve got a cameo coming up in a fabulous show, which you will know next month. I’m excited about it .It’s the Season 2 of a successful show. And I’m again working with one of my favourite directors in it. n
HE (ANIL KAPOOR) IS A FANTASTIC ACTOR AND HAS BEEN FAB IN THE NIGHT MANAGER. BUT WE HAVEN’T COMPARED NOTES
RENOWNED SOUTH KOREAN MUSIC ARTISTE PARK MIN-JUN BEST KNOWN AS THE K-POP GLOBAL STAR AOORA, HAS BEEN REIGNING HEARTS WITH HIS MUSICAL RENDITIONS AND SINGING PROWESS. AND NOW WITH HIS LATEST HIT ‘JIMMY JIMMY’, BECOMING ALL THE RAGE, HE ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE FIRST EVER K-POP SINGER TO CREATE AN INDO-KOREAN SONG. HIS VIBRANT ENERGY AND CHILD-LIKE ENTHUSIASM ARE INFECTIOUS AS WE CATCH UP OVER A ZOOM CALL FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. EARLY ON, HE SHYLY CONFESSES THAT HE’S NOT VERY FLUENT IN ENGLISH AND THIS IS IN FACT HIS FIRST EVER INTERVIEW HE’S ATTEMPTING WITHOUT A TRANSLATOR. HOWEVER, LANGUAGE HARDLY PROVED TO BE A HURDLE AS WE KICKSTART OUR CANDID CHAT. FROM HUMMING HIS HIT NUMBERS TO GIVING US A SNEAK PEEK OF HIS UPCOMING NEW INDO-KOREAN SONG, ‘YEH SHAAM MASTANI’, HE SHARES HIS JOURNEY, TALKS ABOUT HIS LOVE FOR INDIA, HIS CONCERTS AND REVEALS HIS UPCOMING PROJECTS
How did your musical journey start and how’s it going?
My musical journey started when I was 16 and training for Idol. And it’s been a lot of fun and an amazing experience for me since. I have enjoyed all phases of this journey - from being part of a boy band to my solo career - everything has been an experience that has made me grow.
Did you expect to become such a massive hit?
Thank you for saying that. I feel I am still learning and growing and I have like they say - miles to go before I sleep!
K-Pop has come a long way, so how do you look at the evolution and the global craze?
K-Pop, I feel has grown into this phenomenon and global craze in the last few years primarily due to a very disciplined approach by agencies and labels to make it what it is today. Lot of efforts are put into training of singers, production and visuals are always the focus. The entire visual and good music combination approach has endeared K-Pop singers to the fans globally.
What would you say is your USP – what sets you apart from your contemporaries?
Firstly, I feel everyone is unique and everyone have their own set of strengths. I believe I am not just a musician, but a music entertainer. Music, dance and humour with my inner energy is what I feel I bring together and that is my strength.
You’ve sung a variety of songs, but what are your favourites – romantic ballads, hip-hop…?
I like all kinds of music and enjoy it depending on my mood. These days energetic Bollywood and Tamil songs are my favourites.
Your Indo-Korean song ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ has become quite a global rage… tell us more about it!
‘Jimmy Jimmy’ is very dear to me as it is my first release in India and the start of my dream to create Indo-Korean collaboration music. From the time I started enjoying Indian music I was attracted to creating a song where I could mix best of K-Pop and Indian music.
I am very thankful to Saregama (Indian music label) for believing in my dream and giving me the opportunity to recreate this song.
So what more can we expect on that front. Any new singles with the
Yes definitely, I have signed for 10 songs and you all can look forward to some amazing recreations in the coming months.
Tell us about your experience in India with your concerts?
My experience has been very heartwarming and amazing. The love and energy that I have been receiving in India has been making me feel very blessed.
What do you most love about India?
I love the warmth of Indians. I also love how colorful India is and there is this very good high energy vibe that I feel and find very inspiring as an artiste.
What’s your advice to aspiring singers?
Dreams come true so love yourself, believe in yourself and chase your dreams.
You are also quite a fashion icon, how would you describe your style?
I think the music video of my last song ‘Auva auva’ is a reflection of my style. We shot the video in fashion MV style and I was very happy to create the looks for this. I would say my style is what makes me comfortable and what makes my heart happy.
All that love and female adulation, is it overwhelming, how do you handle that?
I am always thankful for all the love and I don’t feel overwhelmed. Only grateful (laughs)!
Do you have a rule book? The dos and don’ts in it?
I don’t really have any rule book. I believe in simplicity and I believe in today. When I get up in the morning I get up with a thought of doing my best and find happiness in everything I do. That is the only rule I follow.
What are your upcoming songs, projects?
My next song is a very soothing and melodious song ‘Yeh shaam Mastani’. We have recreated a seaside version in Korean which I hope everyone will enjoy. We have more interesting songs coming up in October and December as well.
How would you describe success? Success for me is when me and my people around me are happy and enjoying.
What has been your strength through your journey?
The three Fs – Family, Friends, Fans!
I BELIEVE I AM NOT JUST A MUSICIAN, BUT A MUSIC ENTERTAINER. MUSIC, DANCE AND HUMOUR WITH MY INNER ENERGY IS WHAT I FEEL I BRING TOGETHER AND THAT IS MY STRENGTH WITH AOORA!
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS? WHOSE POSTERS DID YOU HAVE AS A CHILD? As a child - Michael Jackson. Otherwise my inspirations change!
THE KEY TO WINNING YOUR HEART WOULD BE… Your smile
ANY STAR YOU WOULD LOVE TO COLLABORATE WITH OR PLAYBACK FOR Thalapathy Vijay and of course Shah Rukh Khan, I love his song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’
WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST? ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘Auva Auva’, ‘Yeh Sham Mastani’
A DREAM VENUE FOR A CONCERT? Dubai
ONE ACTRESS YOU WOULD LOVE TO FEATURE WITH IN YOUR VIDEO?
She’s easily one of the most sought-after names when it comes to fixing arranged marriages in the crème de la crème of highsociety and community. But it was post her hit Netflix reality show Indian Matchmaking grabbing spotlight in the OTT space globally that Mumbai-based India’s top matchmaker Sima Taparia shot to international fame! Fondly called Sima Aunty, whilst the vivacious matchmaker didn’t find the perfect matches on the show for her prospective aspirants, she certainly has her detractors step back as the show’s third season has bagged a nomination at the 75th Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program category. This marks the second Emmy nomination for the show that showcases Taparia’s matchmaking skills as she helps her clients find suitable marriage partners. Unperturbed by what a segment of audience has to say about her show being regressive, Sima has a simple funda ‘To each their own’! Showcasing one more facet of her interesting personality, she has also recently released her debut single as a singer. We caught up with this much-in-demand matchmaker who’s in Dubai for a collaboration with Mahzooz to join in their LIVE draw and pick out a lucky winner who’ll walk away having hit jackpot and seeing his dreams come true. Excerpts from our candid chat about playing cupid, finding love, luck, destiny and of course, marriages!
Your Emmy nominated Indian Matchmaking has put a spotlight on arranged marriages. Tell us more about it. It’s a reality show on Netflix and this was an untouched topic. There’s nothing scripted, there’re no dialogues and every single thing you see on it is reality. I keep everything relatable, real and brutally honest. And I believe that my Indian values have made me a star. And these values are what I want the younger generations to imbibe too. It’s good to have expectations, but you have to be realistic enough to understand that when it comes to choosing a partner, you will have to compromise. Yes, love and respect are important, but 70 per cent of meeting your expectations is also good enough, because realistically you’ll never get a 100 per cent when it comes to finding a partner. One has to be flexible, appreciate each other’s quality and drop your ego. Also it’s very important to have patience. These are the real factors that make or break it. The fact that it has been nominated for the Emmy Awards shows how widely it has been accepted.
Is matchmaking and arranged marriages more challenging in today’s times when there are so many dating apps for the young generations?
Dating apps and all these things work only up to a certain extent. You’ll be surprised to know how many from the younger generation actually prefer arranged marriages and I can tell you that my way of matchmaking is all the more relevant and popular. There is no personality or any serious involvement with these apps. But in an arranged marriage, there’s a mediator, families are involved and there’s a support from them, plus there’s an
onus for the decision. That’s the beauty of an arranged marriage. And my way of working is that I personally meet them, see the homes, understand their criteria, their needs, their economical and financial status, their culture, values, compatibility and only then proceed. I filter and scan before I match two people, so the success rate is more.
The debate about love marriage vs arranged marriage has been going on since ages, so what’s your take? There’s a wider safety net when it comes to arranged marriages as there are families also that are equally involved. In fact, after the show, I have seen an even more interest shown by youngsters in arranged marriages. The concept is changing.
There’s luck involved in love and life generally whether arranged marriage or love marriage. So is your collaboration with Mahzooz also an extension of that belief? When I find good matches, the couple is happy, the families are happy and they give me lot of blessings and all. I think it’s the same with Mahzooz. You participate in that and with luck you can win that, so destiny is there! Matchmaking and Mahzooz… Both help in achieving your dreams and your destiny.
What are the weirdest or the strangest criteria that people have approached you with for prospectivematches?
I had a woman approach me for a prospective bride and her list of requirement read like she was ordering coffee – not just skin complexion, she was insistent on certain height, hair length, qualifications,
financial background, values, everything…
So how much do you pander to their expectations?
I do explain and guide my clients that realistically you can’t have it all. Kahin na kahin adjust karna hoga. You can’t have a 100 per cent, it’s a reality. People also understand this now and so do the youngsters. And if through my show, this has been possible then it’s a blessing for me.
How different is it playing a matchmaker in real versus on reel? No, it’s the same as what we do in real life. Our reality shows are totally real. It’s unscripted, so no dialogue, nothing. The clients are also real. It’s just that there are cameras.
Any plans of Season 4? Netflix will plan that.
And you have also turned singer.
Yes, Shaadi ki Taiyaari Hai is a very peppy and catchy wedding song and people have loved it. I’m not a trained singer, but I had a dream of becoming a singer since childhood and I used to sing in antakshari in groups and all. But never had I thought I would do it professionally. I don’t have the best voice for a singer, but I have sung a wedding song which is very real and people can relate to one of their family members singing. And I’m thrilled to share that the song went viral instantly crossing1.5 million views in under 15 days.
How has life changed post the show?
Everything. After the show, I’m doing a lot of brand endorsements. I’m going on many shows like Bigg Boss and Bollywood Wives. I have also signed a few movies. God has been kind.
You have showed that age is just a number when
it comes to living your dreams, so is there a message that you want to give out especially to the women?
Yes, I want to give a message to women that for creativity and age there are no boundaries. Now I’ve sang a song at this age. I’m doing matchmaking, and so many other things. I’m a socialite, I’m travelling the world, I’m meeting so many people. So if you have dreams, just go after them. There is no age limit for the dreams. There are no boundaries. Do balance the professional life and your personal life and just go for it.
If you have dreams, just go after them. There is no age limit for the dreams. There are no boundaries.
FOR SOCIAL MEDIA STAR SADIQ AHMED ACTING HAS BEEN A PASSION RIGHT FROM HIS CHILDHOOD. AND EVEN THOUGH HE WISHED TO PURSUE ACTING BACK IN MUMBAI AS A STUDENT OF MITHIBAI COLLEGE, IT WAS NOT UNTIL HE MOVED TO DUBAI THAT HE COULD LIVE HIS DREAM WITH THE SUCCESS HE FOUND ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA. WITH CONTENT THAT’S ENTERTAINING AND RELATABLE, SADIQ HAS GONE ON TO CARVE A NICHE AND GAIN FOLLOWERS IN MILLIONS ON HIS YOUTUBE CHANNEL, INSTAGRAM AS WELL AS ON TIKTOK. WINNER OF THE FILMFARE MIDDLE EAST SOCIAL NIGHT’S ENTERTAINMENT INFLUENCER OF THE YEAR, WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE TIKTOK STAR AS HE DROPPED BY OUR OFFICE. EXCERPTS FROM OUR CANDID CHAT
Was acting always on the cards for you?
Yes, I’ve always been a very big fan of Bollywood, of Amitabh
Bachchan right since my childhood, so the passion and that acting bug was always there even during my student days and I did do modelling and acting on the college level. But then professionally it’s not always easy to pursue these dreams especially in this industry. There are responsibilities after studies, so these dreams were still there but went to the backseat. Later I moved to Dubai and it was here that social media gave me a chance to explore
that passion of acting again. Some videos went viral, many commented that there are similarities with Salman Khan! Since I’m a huge fan of Bhai, I started making concept videos which convey messages, are entertaining and they all did well. So from the backseat, they became my road ahead! By God’s grace, I haven’t looked back since and then with the awards like I won from Filmfare Middle East, it’s like an acknowledgement that you are on the right path.
What’s been your biggest USP?
I feel the relatability is my strength. I make content that people relate to and connect strongly. Like I take simple yet daily happenings, between
friends, couples, husbandwife and people enjoy that content. A lot of my videos also carry a social message so that also hits home. I prefer to keep things simple and straight from the heart.
Do you ever face mental blocks as a content creator?
Actually there’s so much to observe around and inspire you that it’s difficult to run out of ideas. And like I said, it’s about celebrating simple things, emotions and experiences in life.
How integral has Dubai been in your journey?
I worked very hard as a professional in Dubai, but COVID changed it
all. That’s when I first got onto the social media. After those doors shut as a professional, these new doors opened on the social media. And within a span of three years, my journey in Dubai has brought me here and I’m finally living my dream. I believe that if your intentions are pure, your passion strong and your faith unwavering, then the universe does help you achieve that one wish!
The social message videos have become your signature style! Yeah, it has become my signature style actually to make a concept on a social cause. I like doing that. So it’s entertaining yet drives home a beautiful message.
As an influencer I think there’s a great responsibility too that we carry and if there are people looking up to you and watching and trying to follow what you do, then it’s our responsibility to spread happiness and also use the influence positively.
What about endorsing brands as an in uencer?
As an influencer I feel we have to be very responsible when it comes to promoting brands or associating yourself with any kind of campaign. I never do an endorsement just for money. Like I have been approached by so many brands to promote vape or shisha parlours, but I would never want to send out a wrong message to my viewers. There are kids watching, families involved so we owe it to them.
Who would you credit your success to?
When I started, nobody believed in me. It wasn’t easy for me too as I was very shy and would be very conscious shooting in public. But then, slowly I overcame that. My family too saw how serious I was about it, so they started supporting me and till date they are my biggest supporters.
What would be your advice to aspiring in uencers?
Be creative, be yourself and rather than trying to be someone else, be the best version of yourself. Try to do something different from other people. Initially I would to a large extent adopt mannerisms like Salman Sir. A lot of them found it entertaining, some even abused saying, ‘don’t try to be Salman Khan’ and ‘you cannot be Salman Khan.’ So there was a lot of demotivation too. So that taught me that instead of trying to become like him, I should start working like him! So I started making my own concepts dubbed
in my own voice and that was the changing point. And that’s why I would advise the youngsters to be themselves.
A lot also resort to shortcuts?
Yes, often to gain instant followers, a lot of them resort to vulgar content, use cheap moves, abusive language… but there’s no longevity there. Like I do show jokes on wives, but there’s also a lot of respect for women in all my videos. It comes from my personal space too, that there is always a lot of respect for women, whether she’s a sister or wife or a stranger. If you want a Filmfare Middle East, then your quality cannot be compromised. You create your own brand and it is important to be a part of good respectable brands in the long run.
How did you deal with the trolls and all that demotivation?
They play a bigger role in your success than you know. They are the ones who push you to actually better yourself. So take that as positive feedback and work on it if they merit that or else ignore them and focus on your dreams instead.
What has changed as an in uencer in terms of getting a particular number of views?
I remember the first time I got 5K views on one of my videos and I was thrilled. And now it’s like Kya yaar, only 50K likes! That is the difference (laughs).
What’s the vision ahead?
We are working on a lot of short film formats for my YouTube channel. Within a year, the YouTube channel gained over 8 million followers and so many commented on wanting to see me in a movie, so we are taking baby steps with short films first. There’s also a full-fledged Bollywood script that we are working on.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANY STAR AND ASK THEM ONE QUESTION WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would ask Salman Khan: “The world tells me that I look like you, do you think that I look like you?” (laughs)
ONE SUPER-POWER YOU WISH YOU HAD?
I wish I could be invisible!
ONE ACTRESS YOU WISH YOU COULD ACT WITH?
HOW DO YOU HANDLE ALL THE FEMALE ATTENTION?
By giving them my wife’s number!
YOUR ADVICE FOR A HAPPY MARRIED LIFE? Just keep the mouth shut and respond with “accha”, “hmm”, “haan theek hai!”
BESIDES ACTING, WHAT’RE YOUR OTHER PASSIONS?
I love animals! As a kid I wanted to become Tarzan!
WITH ALISH APPAREL
“Step into summer, hand in hand with style and graceThis is Co-ord magic”
Absolutely! Co-ord wear is a fantastic choice for the summer season, combining style and comfort effortlessly. After all it is all about embracing the summer spirit while looking effortlessly put together. Choose your favorite pieces and enjoy the fashion adventure in style!Ms Shabnam Nissar Kassam FounderofAlishAppareland Director of the Danube Welfare Center
A businessman by profession, Dushyant Soni is a man who wears many hats with great elan. From acting, to dancing and music to harbouring a rather rare talent of being able to communicate with crows, and from working towards encouraging arts to bringing together communities across countries, he has constantly been pursuing his artistic passions. We caught up with him in Dubai where he had recently successfully organized the Mumbai Samachar Global Gujarati Icon Award Show. The celebration of 202 glorious years of Mumbai Samachar in Dubai was a spectacular event that brought together a gathering of distinguished individuals to honor the newspaper’s historic journey and pay tribute to the outstanding achievements of beloved Gujarati celebrities and successful businessmen, who have brought pride
ACE BUSINESSMAN DUSHYANT SONI TALKS TO AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF THE INTERNATIONAL AWARDS EVENT HE ORGANIZED IN DUBAI, ENCOURAGING ARTISTIC TALENTS AND HIS RARE SKILL OF BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH CROWS!
to the community on the global stage.
“It’s an honour to be able to organize an event of this magnitude for Mumbai Samachar, which is not only India’s oldest, but also the oldest newspaper of Asia and one of the most prestigious publications. What made it all the more special was that it brought together some of the top and the most celebrated artistes, personalities, businessmen – like Shahbuddin Rathore, Yogesh Mehta, Rizwan Sajan, Kinjal Dave, Anandji, Bharat Bhatia, Ashish Chauhan - from across the Gujarati communities to honour and felicitate their achievements,” says Soni, who’s thrilled with the response and recognition the event received internationally. Although the businessman reveals that he’s not into events management, organizing this awards show was a great milestone.
Balancing his time between work in Dubai and India,
the ace businessman is more than just a gold trader by profession. A dancer at heart, he has not only won leading Dandiya and Garba competitions back home in Mumbai, but now also organizes such competitions across the globe that nurture and encourage young dancers. Talking about his passion for the arts, he reveals that he had always been fascinated with acting and dancing.
“I was very serious about wanting to take up acting as a profession. In 1990 I had even done theatre and my play Bakra Kishton Mein, which was a remake of the Pakistani play got very popular too. It was originally a six-hour long play which I edited down to an hour. I was barely 17 year old back then and we performed it during the Navratri days. And I directed and acted in it. And it was very challenging as I played almost three roles alone. Its success prompted me to take this up more seriously,” shares Dushyant, who joined Kishore Namit Kapoor’s Acting Institute post that.
“I had even pursued an acting course back then with Namit Kapoor’s Acting Institute as a
youngster. I was in the same class as Akshaye Khanna there and we were seniors of Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor who joined in the next batches. I did go on to act in a few serials and even did a role in the movie Dahak. Apart from that my brother Amit (Soni) and I even participated in Antakshari based TV show and we emerged as winners on it. But back then there were other responsibilities so I couldn’t pursue it as a profession. And even though I have changed tracks now, I still harbor a love and passion for it.
I always knew that the business side was purely work and to fulfil my duties, but my heart still lies in this industry,” he admits candidly.
Recalling his early association with Mumbai Samachar, he says that though he gave up his Bollywood movie dreams, he did not give up on his passions and by 1997 emerged as a leading name in dance entertainment at the most prestigious Navratri competitions organized by Mumbai Samachar. “I have been playing garba for almost 30 years now, and for 25 years I was the champion. In the last five years, I have
stopped playing and now I am on the panel of judges at almost all the top Navrartri events and competitions in Mumbai. We have even organized a few competitions there. Besides this I even organize workshops for enthusiasts and I do this free of cost at India Club here,” shares Soni.
“For me encouraging our culture is far more important than making money out of this. I have neither the intention, nor a desire to make money here. You can’t put a price on art. I can never think of selling this.”
He recalls that it was in 2020 that COVID slowed down the speed, although it could not put brakes on his plans completely. “There was no Navratri happening. So we came up with a virtual online competition - Digital Global Garba - that became quite a hit as people could participate from their houses. On the panel of jury we had members from across the globe and India – from Dubai, from UK, US, from Mumbai and Surat, Ahmedabad – we had 33 jury members. This was a free for all competition and we had as many as 2500 – 3000 entries from across the globe and we declared 200 winners. We continued this in 2021 too. Then the plan was to take it offline and we associated with Mumbai Samachar for it. So we chose one winner from different events across Mumbai and had them all compete in a grand finale on Dussehra. Mumbai Samachar used to have such a competition back in the 90s but then they stopped and we have brought it back now.”
Interestingly, Soni shares that none of these are money-making ventures for him. “By God’s grace, my business is doing well and these are pursuits that I’m not doing to make money. This is what I love and I’m simply doing it for the love of it,” he says.
In fact, high on ethics, Soni insists that any of the relatives of the jury are not allowed to participate for the prize. “We want to keep the process fair and transparent. Even my sons are not allowed to participate. They can play, but not win. Even our jury comprises of deserving names,” he says.
It was this successful association back then that prompted them to organize the awards event in Dubai. “Nilesh Dave showed great faith is us and that meant a lot. In fact at the success afterparty, he declared that for the next five years, they would want us to organize these awards events for them,” says Soni.
The multi-faceted Soni also harbours one rare skill that only three people in the world can boast of – that of communicating with crows! “It’s not the same as mimicking them, it’s different to imitate. They actually come when I call them. This was my hobby till I was 18. Then I gave it up and it was in 2011 – 12 that I tried it again and it happened,” says Soni about his unique talent that he first developed back when he was barely 10 years old. Among his other talents, is also singing.
It was during the pandemic times that Soni released his music video called ‘Garba Gujarat’ along with his friend Chetan Gharvi. “I had a song so we decided to shoot it. Chetan sung the song, while I choreographed, directed and even featured in it. It was released through T-Series. Then in 2021 we released my album Krishna on T-Series. I sung the song too in this one,” he shares. Talking about the balancing act Soni insists that if you have a passion, you will find a way to do it.
“I love my family, so I give them time too. I give time to my arts, my business, all of it! If you want to, you can do it. I firmly believe in it.” Going forward, Soni says, “I am happy to associate with any thing that promotes our art and culture.”
I teach garba for free in my workshops here. For me encouraging our culture is far more important than making money out of this. I have a very successful business to make money. So, I have neither the intention, nor a desire to make money here. You can't put a price on art. I can never think of selling this.Dushyant Soni with brother Amit Soni
Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, Helen Mirren, Kate McKinnon
The much-awaited Barbie movie has already been creating records worldwide. The movie follows Barbie and Ken on a journey of self-discovery while facing an identity and existential crisis. The film has gotten a thumbs up from critics and audiences globally and this definitely ranks the highest on our must-watch list this month.
AUGUST IS SET TO BE A MONTH FOR MOVIE BUFFS WITH SOME OF THE MOST-AWAITED FILMS AND OTT SERIES HITTING SCREENS THIS MONTH. INTERESTINGLY, THERE ARE AS MANY AS 5 SEQUELS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN THE LIST. HERE’S WHAT WE ARE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO
Director: Amit Rai
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam, Pavan Malhotra, Arun Govil
Director: Anil Sharma
Sharma, Gaurav Chopra, Luv Sinha, Mir Sarwar, Manish
The beloved couple - Tara Singh and Sakeena are back in this sequel to the 2001 blockbuster hit Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. The period action drama will see Tara Singh on a mission to save and bring home his son. Can’t wait to see Sunny and Ameesha recreate their magic on screen once again!
The satirical comedy-drama is a sequel to the 2012 hit OMG – Oh My God! The film revolves around Kanti Sharan Mudgal, a simple man, who is a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva.
MEG 2: THE TRENCH
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Jason Statham, Jing Wu, Sophia Cai, Sienna Guillory, Page Kennedy
This action-adventure sci-fi movie is a sequel to The Meg (2018) and like the previous film, it revolves around a group of scientists that find themselves in a battle for survival when they take on an exploratory mission in the ocean. And this time the ferocious Megadolons have equally dangerous company that threaten their very existence. A treat for family that enjoys some mega thrills on the big screen!
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Archie Madekwe, Djimon Hounsou, Orlando Bloom, David Harbour, Darren Barnet
A biographical sports drama, it tells the true story of Gran Turismo, a talented driver whose gaming skills lead to him becoming a professional race driver for a coveted race title. The inspiring and exciting journey has us rooting for this one as three underdogs team up to take the most elite sport of car racing!
MADE IN HEAVEN 2
Director: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti
Cast: Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh, Shashank Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Kalki Koechli
Made in Heaven Season 2 follows Tara and Karan running their wedding management agency in Delhi as successful wedding planners. Whilst overcoming challenges on the professional front as traditions and moral values clash with modern issues, they have to deal with deeper chaos in their respective personal lives too.
GHOOMER DREAM GIRL 2
Director: R Balki
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, Shabana
Azmi, Angad Bedi
A young cricket prodigy loses her right hand in an unfortunate accident on the eve of her international cricket debut. A cynical and failed cricketer steps in as a coach to guide to her new dream using some innovative techniques like introducing Ghoomer!
Cast: Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Jackie Shroff, Shiva Rajkumar, Ramya Krishnan, Tamannaah Bhatia This Tamil black comedy – action thriller stars Rajinikanth in the titular role and promises to bring forth true Rajini style of action.
HEART OF STONE
Director: Tom Harper
Cast: Gal Gadot, Alia Bhatt, Jamie Dornan This action thriller that marks Alia’s international debut is set to premiere on Netflix. The plot revolves around a highly skilled spy Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) who works for a secret unit employing advanced technology to counter potential global threats.
ALSO WATCH OUT FOR:
GUNS AND GULAABS
THE SECRET KINGDOM
CRUEL SUMMER S2
THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Ananya Panday, Paresh Rawal, Asrani, Annu Kapoor, Abhishek Banerjee, Manjot Singh, Rajpal Yadav, Manoj Joshi, Seema Pahwa, Vijay Raaz Ayushmann Khurrana returns as Pooja in the highly anticipated sequel to the successful 2019 film Dream Girl.
Director: Pranay Meshram
Cast: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Nishant Dahiya, Rajesh Jis, Tsahi Halevi
An ordinary Indian girl gets trapped in a combat zone and struggles for survial