OSCAR WINNER TOM MCCARTHY ON “SPOTLIGHT”

Oscar-winning writer/director Tom McCarthy talks about the making of his film Spotlight in our interview.  The film was nominated for 5 Oscars and won 2 Academy Awards last night. McCarthy and Josh Singer won an Oscar for the best original screenplay, and the second for the best picture.

Spotlight is based on a true story about how The Boston Globe investigated and shed light on the sexual abuse in the Catholic church in Boston. The sexual abuse had gone on for years, but no one had done an in-depth investigation into it. Spotlight premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.

We recorded this interview with MCarthy in San Francisco just before the film released. We spoke to him about being raised as a Catholic, why he chose to premiere the film at Venice Film Festival and why he made the film. Spotlight is a film about faith points out McCarthy in the interviews.

McCarthy’s previous films include Station Agent, The Cobbler and The Visitor. Besides directing and writing, McCarthy has also acted in films like Little Fockers, and Syriana and TV series like The Wire, and Boston Public.

 

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INTERVIEW: OSCAR NOMINATED DIRECTOR LENNY ABRAHAMSON ON MAKING OF “ROOM”

Oscar nominated director Lenny Abrahamson’s film Room has got 4 Oscar nominations. They are for best director, film, best female actress and best adapted screenplay. That the film scored 4 Oscar nominations may come as a surprise to some, but not to those who have seen the film.

We recorded this interview with Abrahamson in San Francisco just before the release of the film. Room is based on a novel by Emma Donaghue by the same name. This is a love story between a mother and her young son, who are held captive and live in a small room. They somehow manage to escape and struggle to find their footing in a free world. Abrahamson has brilliantly captured the nuances of this fragile and powerful relationship between mother and son in this film. Brie Larson plays the mother and Jacbob Tremblay, a young Canadian actor plays as the son.

Recently, Abrahamson shared a long letter he wrote Donaghue on why he should be allowed to direct the film. The letter is an eye-opener and lets you get a sense of how Abrahamson analysed the novel and shared how he plans to shoot the film. “I love this book, I feel I understand how it works, and I believe I have the skill and sensitivity to do it justice on film.” The letter contains the blueprint of how Abrahamson wanted to approach and make this emotionally strong film. Is it any surprise then that Donaghue agreed to have Abrahamson direct the film?

There is a strong chance that Larson will bag an Oscar for her role in Room. I won’t be surprised if the film gets an award either for the best film or director.

If you missed watching the film, you might want to see it. I almost did not see the film. When I got a press invite to see the film I declined it. I did not think I could see the film. The only reason I watched it is because the person handling the PR for the film urged me to give it a try. You won’t regret it she promised. Am so glad that I did get to watch it, and got an opportunity to interview the brilliant and funny Abrahamson, who grew up in Dublin.

SAN JOSE JAZZ WINTER FEST 2016 FEATURES KADHYA BONET, JOHN SCOFIELD, REGINA CARTER, BRIA SKONBERG, DELFEAYO MARSALIS AND OTHERS

The San Jose Jazz Winter Fest starts on Feb 25th and runs all the way through March 8, 2016. And this  year they have a great line-up of singers, who will perform in downtown San Jose and in Palo Alto.  I think this is the first time  San Jose Jazz  is spreading its wings and reaching to music lovers up north in the Peninsula area. The festival features 25 singers from around the country and the bay area.

John Scofield, Regina Carter, Nicholas Payton Trio, Jackie Ryan, Delfeayo Marsalis Quarter and Bria Skonberg are some of the artists you can catch at this year’s San Jose Jazz Winterfest. The festival opens on Feb 25th with a performance by Kadhja Bonet, who released her album The Visitor last year. NPR Music described Bonet’s music as “cinematic and folky kind of psychedelic soul music impossible to pin down, a style one simply doesn’t hear regularly anymore.”

Jazz guitarist John Scofield is a well-known musician, who has played with Chet Baker, Miles Davis and others. Scofield fell in love with a guitar when he was 11 years old as he shares in this interview. He started off playing blues before migrating to playing jazz. You can catch Scofield and saxophonist Joe Lovano on Feb 27 at 8 pm at JCC Oshman Center in Palo Alto.

Last year I caught the talented trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg at San Joser Jazz Summerfest and thoroughly enjoyed watching her show. Skonberg has a warm and wonderful stage presence. If you missed watching her, here is your chance to catch Skonberg on Sat, Mar 5, 6pm at Cafe Stritch in downtown San Jose.

Jazz violinist Regina Carter is back in the Bay area this year. Last year Carter played at the Stanford Jazz festival, and she is back at the San Jose Winter Fest on Sunday, Feb 28 at Trianon Theatre.

Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis of the famous Marsalis family of New Orleans is also playing at this year’s festival. His brothers are Wynton and Branford Marsalis. You can catch Marsalis  at Cafe Stritch at 7 pm. Marsalis

For information about the show and tickets check out San Jose Jazz website.

A BANGALORE MUST: KARAVALLI IS A WONDERFUL GATEWAY TO EXPLORE THE CUISINE OF KERALA, KARNATAKA & GOA

Karavall, Taj Gateway, Bangalore

Karavall, Taj Gateway, Bangalore

Forget zooming up and down  the coastal towns of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa to explore the various cuisines of this region. Instead head straight to Karavalli at Taj Gateway in Bangalore to explore new and old dishes from these coastal towns that are a patchwork quilt of Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. There are the Moppalas of Northern Kerala, the Syrian Christians of Southern Kerala, Bunds and Havyaka brahmins from Northern Karnataka,  the Hindu and Christian communities from Goa. Each of these communities have  their own signature dishes using the rich repertoire of spices that this area is famous for right from peppercorns to cardamoms. It was the whiff of spices that brought the Europeans to this part of India a few hundred years ago and among them the Portuguese left a strong stamp on the cuisine of Goa.

Karavalli is located right in the heart of Bangalore on Residency Road. The restaurant has won many awards and made it to variou lists of must-eat places in Bangalore and India. So, is it any wonder then that on my annual visits to Bangalore I make a beeline to this restaurant? I either have a thali or a simple meal of appam and stew and wash it down with a decadent cup of ada pradhaman and filter coffee.

Executive Chef Naren Thimmaiah, Karavalli, Taj Gateway

Executive Chef Naren Thimmaiah,Taj Gateway

This time around I got to meet and talk with Chef Thimmiah, the executive chef of Taj Gateway.

Continue reading

PRASHANT NAIR’S UMRIKA TO SCREEN AT SAN FRANCISCO’S CAAMFEST

Indian filmmaker Prashant Nair’s award-winning film Umrika will screen at San Francisco’s CAAMFEST. The film  premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award. Umrika generated a lot of buzz after it premiered at Sundance.

Umrika is a humorous film about a young man’s journey from Punjab, India to Umrika, or America. In an interview with Indiewire Nair describes his film as :

“the mythology of America and, more generally, how cultures perceive each other: the stereotypes, assumptions, misunderstandings and labeling as “exotic” of all things unfamiliar.”

The film stars Suraj Sharma and Adil Hussainof Life of Pi fame along with  Smita Tambe, Tony Revolori (played Zero Moustafa in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel),  Rajesh Tailang, Pramod Pathak, Amit Sial, Sauraseni Maitra and Prateik Babbar.

Nair’s previous films include  Delhi in a Day and Max and Helena.

Umrika will screen on 2 different days at the CAAMFest – March 13 and March 19, 2016. For tickets and information check the film festival’s website.

CAAMFEST 2016 runs from March 10-20, 2016.

PODCAST: MATTHEW HILL OF KITE HILL ON DAIRY FREE CHEESE & FOOD STARTUPS IN SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

Matthew Sade

Matthew Sade

In the last few years San Francisco Bay area has emerged as a hub of food startups, who are using technology to create new products and Kite Hill is one such company. We talk with Matthew Sade, CEO of Kite Hill to find out what they are doing differently about making cheese that is dairy free.

Here is an interview with Sade, where he describes how Kite Hill makes its cheese using traditional cheese-making methods. Sade also shares how they got started and what propelled this well-funded startup to go this route. One of the reasons Kite Hill was successful was because of the work of biochemist Pat Brown of Stanford University, who is also part of the startup.

LISTEN TO MICHAEL SADE, CEO OF KITE HILL

Sade has been involved with the food industry for the past couple of decades. Kite Hill is at the fore front in creating dairy free cheese from almond milk. The company started with a line of various cheese products, and in the last year has branched out to creating entrees and cheese cakes from their ricotta cheese.

Here is an interview with Sade, where he describes how Kite Hill makes its cheese using traditional cheese-making methods. He also shares how they got started and what propelled this well-funded startup to go this route.

I first tasted Kite Hill cheese at the BiteSV conference and was surprised by the quality of the cheese. It was hard to tell that the cheese was made from almond milk.

This interview was originally aired on TV in San Francisco Bay area in 2015.

INDIA’S ECOMMERCE COMPANY SNAPDEAL SNAGS $200 MILLION AT $6.5 BILLION VALUATION

SnapdealIt is boom time in Indian e-commerce space. The heat is on for an epic race between Snapdeal, FlipKart and Amazon India. All 3 major players are vying to corner a piece of the lucrative Indian market that a Goldman Sachs report pegged at $100 billion (FY20201) reports the Economic Times.

FlipKart and Amazon have invested hundreds of millions dollars to expand and improve their operations in India. And now comes this news that Snapdeal has snagged $200 million in a fresh round of funding from Canada’s Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund and Iron Pillar according to LiveMint. SnapDeal’s valuation is now $6.5 billion according to The Wall Street Journal.

Snapdeal was founded in 2010 by Kunal Behl and Rohit Bansal. In 2011 the startup landed its first two investment rounds of $55 and there has been no looking back since then. Snapdeal, which is owned by Jasper Infotech has so far raised $2 billion in investments according to The Economic Times.

Snapdeal and FlipKart have yet to make a profit. Amazon with its deep, deep pockets is infusing a lot of capital to capture a valuable slice of the Indian e-commerce space.

FACEBOOK INDIA’S MANAGING DIRECTOR STEPS DOWN

Kirthiga Reddy

Kirthiga Reddy

Facebook India’s Managing Director Kirthiga Reddy is stepping down and will “explore new opportunities” at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters in the US. The decision to relocate to the US is based on personal reasons wrote Reddy in her Facebook post. For the next 6 months she will be busy transitioning out of her role as the head of Facebook India operations.The search for Reddy’s successor is underway.

Reddy joined Facebook India in 2011 and helped established the company’s presence in India. Her decision to step down came as a surprise as some in the Indian media reported. Reddy’s announcement came a day after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announced that Facebook’s Free Basics service cannot be offered in India. The thumbs down from TRAI is a significant setback to  Facebook’s plans for India.

Reddy’s decision to step down is not connected with TRAI’s decision according to Facebook.

 

5 BEST VEGETARIAN FOODS TO EAT IN BANGALORE

My 5 best vegetarian foods to eat in Bangalore are: filter coffee, idli, dosa,vada and coconut water.  Technically speaking coffee and coconut water probably qualify as drinks. Now that I have shared the list let me share why they made it to my 5 best vegetarian foods to eat in Bangalore.

Every year on my annual visit to Bangalore the first thing I do is to head straight to Haati Kaapi’s kiosk’s right at the airport.There is nothing like a strong cup of filter coffee made from local coffee beans to get your day started. Filter coffee is different from the way coffee is brewed in the US. Filter coffee is brewed in a slow drip method and the decoction or brew is then mixed with milk along with a liberal dose of sugar. Those first 2 cups of filter coffee from Haati Kaapi are  just the start of my coffee affair in Bangalore. Continue reading

TAMIL FILM NILA TO PREMIERE AT SILICON VALLEY’S CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL

Nila trailer from Selvamani Selvaraj on Vimeo.

Nila (Moon) from first time director/screenwriter Selvamani Selvaraj will premiere at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival this year. The film is part Spotlight section of the film festival that you can watch on Friday, March 4, 2016 at California Theatre in San Jose.

Nila is an independent Tamil film from India. Over the past few years there has been a slow and steady stream of independent films from India and Nila is part of that movement. And like many independent productions this film is partly crowd-funded. Quite a few of these new independent filmmakers from India are trained engineers or techies, who gave up their safe and secure jobs to pursue their creative dreams. Director Selvaraj is one of them.

Nila centers around Vimal, a taxi driver and his chance meeting one rainy night with a childhood flame of his. The film explores unrequited love between these two childhood friends. Nila is based on director Selvaraj’s own experience on love and anguish. The film stars Sruthi Hariharan and Vicky R.

If you miss the premiere, you can catch the film either on March 6, 2016 at Hammer Theatre or on March 7, 2015 at Camera 12 in San Jose. Here is the link about the Nila’s screening at Cinequest.

This year’s Cinequest Film Festival runs from March 1-13, 2016 in various locations in San Jose.