REMEMBERING DEBBIE REYNOLDS AND CARRIE FISHER

What a year 2016 turned out to be. To use the hackneyed phrase surreal to describe 2016 would be a master understatement. It is as if we are all part of some bad film. What was utterly surreal is the way in which the mother and daughter actors Carrie Fisher (60) and Debbie Reynolds (84) passed away within a day. Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on her flight from London to Los Angeles from which she never recovered. She passed away on Dec 27, 2016. Reynolds was in the midst of preparing her daughter’s funeral arrangements when she suffered a stroke and passed away on Dec 28, 2016. There will be now be a joint funeral for Fisher and Reynolds.

Both Fisher and Reynolds were gifted actors, who were beloved to millions of people around the world. Growing up in India I remember how folks would fondly recollect Reynolds in MGM’s film Singin’ In The Rain. In fact the film was a mandatory watch for many kids in India before the age of Internet. Reynolds made her mark in the film alongside Gene Kelley. Here is a clip of Reynolds from Singin’ In The Rain. She was only 19 when she acted in the film

Fisher followed her mother’s footsteps and made her mark as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Here is an interview of Fisher by Brian Linehan.

 

Fisher was also a writer, who wrote extensively and one of her books was made into a film called Postcards From The Edge.

 

On January 7, 2017 HBO plans to debut its documentary Bright Lights that explores the relationship between Reynolds and Fisher.

 

 

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VIDEO: CHRISTOPHER LOCHHEAD ON PLAY BIGGER, SILICON VALLEY & THE CHURCH OF LATTER-DAY DUDE

Meet Silicon Valley-based Christopher Lochhead, co-author of f Play Bigger – How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. Prior to writing the book Lochhead was the Chief Marketing Officer of 3 Silicon Valley-based companies. He is also the father of 7 hens, a surfer and a priest in the Church of Latter-Day Dude.

We sat down with Lochhead to talk about his book, growing up in Canada and how he came to work in Silicon Valley and worked for 3 different companies: Vantive, Scient and Mercury Interactive that was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 1996 for over $4.5 billion. Lochhead also shares about how he and his partner failed in their first company and how his dyslexia. And finally, we talk to him about his priesthood in the Church of Latter-Day Dude that is based on the teachings of The Big Lebowski.

You can follow Lochhead on Twitter.

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VIDEO: LA LA LAND’S DAMIEN CHAZELLE AND JUSTIN HURWITZ

 

We got an opportunity to speak with Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz about the making of La La Land, its music, the influence of Hollywood musicals, Jacques Demy and their first day in Los Angeles. Are there any autobiographical elements in this film? Tune in to find out.

Chazelle wrote and directed the film and Hurwitz composed the music. They have worked together since their student days at Harvard University. Their last collaboration Whiplash for which JK Simmons won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons and John Legend.

This interview was originally aired on TV in the US.

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PODCAST: JOHN MADDEN ON “MISS SLOANE,” JESSICA CHASTIN & STAR WARS

Director John Madden on the set of EuropaCorp's "Miss Sloane". Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes © 2016 EuropaCorp – France 2 Cinema

Director John Madden on the set of EuropaCorp’s “Miss Sloane”.
Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes
© 2016 EuropaCorp – France 2 Cinema

Director John Madden’s new film Miss Sloane is about a powerful Washington DC lobbyist played by Jessica Chastain. We caught up with Madden at Industrial Light Magic’s (ILM) office in San Francisco. ILM was a fitting venue since Madden’s first American project was a radio drama of Star Wars. George Lucas is a big fan of radio drama and gave the radio drama rights to his alma mater University of Southern California (USC) points out Madden.

We talked with Madden about his association with ILM, Star Wars,  the making of Miss Sloane and Chastain. The film is based on a screenplay by debut writer Jonathan Perera.

Madden first worked with Chastain in The Debt and was impressed with her acting. Tune in to find out what he has to say about Star Wars, the making of Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain and Perera.

LISTEN: JOHN MADDEN ON “MISS SLOANE,” JESSICA CHASTIN & STAR WARS

Madden started his career in directing radio dramas and went on to work in theatre, TV and films. His first film was Ethan Frome followed by Mrs. Brown, Shakespeare in Love, The Debt, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 1 and 2 and now Miss Sloane.

 

  • Title: MISS SLOANE
  • Running Time: 132 minutes
  • Status: Releases Nov 9, 2016 in San Francisco Bay area
  • Country: USA
  • GENRE: POLITICAL THRILLER, DRAMA

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PODCAST: VAASANTHI ON JAYALALITHA & TAMIL NADU POLITICS

VaasanthiJayalalitha Jayaraman, the Chief Minister of the southern Indian India state Tamil Nadu passed on Dec 5, 2106 in Chennai. Jayalalitha (68) represents a rare breed of Tamil politicians, who built their career in the Tamil film industry before joining politics. Jayalalitha along with MGR and Karunanidhi exerted a powerful influence on their voters and on the policy and politics of Tamil Nadu.  This is a rare and unusual phenomenon where these 3 politicians were democratically voted in and out of power for over 40 years.

These 3 politicians  – Jayalalitha, MGR and Karunanidhi have been elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu since the 1970s till 2016. With the passing away of  Jayalalitha and MGR, the only person left in the triumivirate is Karunanidhi, who is is 92 years old now.

Tamil Nadu politics is filled with complexties and contradictions. To an outsider Tamil Nadu politics is full of contradictions points out Vaasanthi author of  Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars.  But, for an insider or someone who grew up in Tamil Nadu (like I did)  the contradictions were part and parcel of their life.

We spoke to Vaasanthi about Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi and the evolution of caste politics in Tamil Nadu and the central roles that Tamil films played. We get a peek into Jayalalitha’s personality and political style through Vaasanthi.

LISTEN: VAASANTHI ON  JAYALALITHA & TAMIL NADU POLITICS 

This interview was recorded in 2016 when Tamil Nadu had just held its state elections, where Jayalalitha’s party failed to win the elections. At a personal level Jayalalitha did well in the 2016 elections. Don’t write off Jayalalitha yet she says. Vaasanthi was right. A few years later Jayalalitha won the elections and became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

This interview was originally published in May 2006.

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RIP: JAYALALITHA – AN ACTRESS TURNED POLITICIAN OF TAMIL NADU

Jayalalitha Jayaraman - Amma

Jayaraman Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu passed away on Sunday, Dec 4, 2016 in Chennai. She was 68 years old. This obituary from the BBC sums up Jayalalitha’s life in films and politics. She was popularly known as … Continue reading

VIDEO: ALAM KHAN ON USTAD ALI AKBAR KHAN, THE LEGACY OF MAIHAR GHARANA & HIP-HOP

Alam Khan is a musician, composer and educator. He plays the sarode.  We spoke with Khan about his father Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the legacy of Maihar gharana and his love for both Hindustani or North Indian classical music and hip-hop.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was one of the most famous sarode player and Khan is carrying on the legacy of his father’s music and Maihar gharana that traces its roots to Tansen, the court musician in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar.  Members of Maihar gharana include Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Annapurna Devi, Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee and others.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan founded a music school in San Francisco Bay area in 1967 and his music influenced quite a few iconic musicians like The Grateful Dead and others. Khan teaches at the school just like his father did. The school celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Khan shares how growing up in Marin county he listened to both Hindustani music and mainstream American music like Crosby, Still and Nash, Jim Hendrix and hip-hop. He learnt to play the guitar from Jai Uttal as a teenager. Khan dabbled with playing the sarode as a 7-year old and then returned to it as a 12-year-old and spent many years learning to play the sarode from his father.

Besides Hindustani music Khan is a also a big fan of hip-hop music and recently released an album called Grand Tapestry with Elijh on vocals, Saler Nader on tabla and Alam Khan on sarode.

What did Ustad Ali Akbar Khan have to say about hip-hop and rap music. “Too much talking and not enough music,” was his answer as his son shares in the interview. Rap music is “loop-based and about words,” adds Khan. It sounds like Khan has found a way to embrace both Hindustani and hip-hop music in a happy way.

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