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Book Only love is Real by Dr Brian Weiss Vs Tamil film Anegan by KV Anand

I rarely take to blogging, but wanted to share some thoughts here, as watching the first day first UK show of the Tamil film Anegan, at Cineworld Wembley, brought back a wave of memories. This was due to the ode to Dr Brian Weiss and his past life regression true stories (of what is basically advanced hypnosis), being an inspiration for this film. The director of Anegan, KV Anand, shows one of Dr Weiss’ books in a scene too. In Hinduism, a religion I was brought up around, past lives and reincarnation, are common themes, and regression therapy is based on healing, where reliving those lives in a deep hypnotic state, brings back stories.

One of the books I was enamoured by, was Only Love Is Real, based on soul mates who are united by the therapist, as their past life stories matched, in many different iterations. It is based on the real story of a couple. In the Tamil film Anegan, this is basically the basis – there is one real life couple, and two past love stories. Of course, in true Indian film style, many masala elements, like fights, songs, and a villain come into play. Oh, and the high tech world of Chennai’s IT companies, in this instance, an uber-modern gaming company!

Anegan-Movie-Stills-2

Anegan stars an actor I have followed with interest since his first film, Alaigal Oivathillai (1981) – as a small child, I somehow connected with this story, Karthik Muthuraman. And another actor, who began his career aged 16, with the film Thulluvadho Ilamai (2002), Danush, who I admire greatly for his versatility and ‘acting’ with his eyes. Throw in the beautiful Amyra Dastur, and you have the makings of a successful film, which opened to packed houses, worldwide.

Back to the regression story… I resonated with it from the first love story, set in beautiful Burma, with some sweeping music by Harris Jayaraj, and the time-jump when that abruptly ends in tragedy. The minute the word regression was uttered, I said to my date for the film, this reminds me of Dr Brian Weiss and Only love is real. And as the movie progressed, this was a recurring theme, where the heroine recounts these stories, all leading to a crime solving exercise. I also caught up with Dhanush when he was in London for Shamitabh, and he also spoke about his life and career, as an actor since the age of 16, and about Anegan too. Click to listen!

AO Dhanush social media

I’ve tried past life regression twice, both times, getting very little – one practitioner in Mumbai, back in 2005, said I was an old soul and was at the last reincarnation of myself. I’ll never know, I guess. But when I read the book Only love is real, it inspired me to write this poem, back in 2001. A lot has changed in my life since. I wanted to share this with you all, and also say a kudos to KV Anand and team, for Anegan, a film that I thoroughly enjoyed, the love stories tugging at my heartstrings!

Only Love is real (inspired by the Brian Weiss book of the same name)

Through lifetimes we meet
One look in each other’s eyes
One touch, even accidentally
Reunites our very being
Making alive our lost souls

Souls empty without one another
Different in every existence
Another time another place
Worlds apart culturally
Yet so similar, perfectly fitting

Though we love and lose each other
Through the generations
Regardless of time
Over & over
Our hearts search for those smiling eyes

In our spirits & minds
Our souls are one
Our true Love reigns
United in thoughts
Unified in our dreams

We are parted into our own worlds
Where circumstances are merciless and inevitable
Only love is real
Only our love is real
No matter who else shares our lives

Regardless of the Angels
Who give us love & protect us
When we’re not together

Magical moments – AR Rahman and Rashid Ali

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I was invited to help coordinate a video shoot for British artiste Rashid Ali’s song “Something on you mind” | “Sookhi nadi” in Hindi, from his debut album, “Call me Rashid”.

This is a magical moment for me, as I’d known Rashid from back in 2000 and I’ve always admired his superlative musicianship – he possesses a wonderful voice and magical guitar playing skills. This was produced by double Grammy and double Oscar winner, AR Rahman, pictured here also.

I’m holding one of the lights we used for the video shoot. The photo was taken by Akin Aworan, who was part of the 2nd camera unit for the shoot! This video stars Rashid Ali and Anne Marie, and was shot around the vibrant Camden area of London. Watch it in English and Hindi, below.

On the cover of movieScope glossy magazine

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A few months ago, I was asked to write a piece in one of UK’s most read movie magazines, on women in Indian cinema, a topic I’m very passionate about indeed. I had written for them before and love the magazine a lot, so it was indeed a pleasure to write the piece.

Then, the icing on the cake came, when I was asked to be a ‘cover star’, joining 31 amazing women in film, like Hollywood actresses Nicole Kidman, Rosario Dawson, Gemma Arterton and Bollywood actress and international singer, Priyanka Chopra.

This year marks 10 years in media for me, having penned 1000s of print articles, features and interviews, spoken on several radio programmes, videos, podcasts and 1000s of social media updates and also placing several pieces in the mainstream and Asian media, via my consultancy work.
The honour of being on this cover, makes all the hard work, the 18 hour days and everything that comes with this line of work, totally worth it! I feel so blessed and thankful!!! Thank you team movieScope!

Home made roast lamb and rice noodle delight!!

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Best food for a gluten free princess like me! Masala roasted lamb tossed with finely chopped vegetables and rice noodles! My hubby cooks some delectable stuff indeed! Very blessed and thankful.
via PicsArt Photo Studio

Seeking beauty gives me solace

As I take life day by day and embrace all the good moments, working around my health, I seem to be becoming more and more philosophical. In the last few years, as well as any of my personal struggles, my family has faced death in throngs – the older generation are passing on and the latest in succession, were my Great Aunt, Balambigai aka Tang Tang Aatchi and my Dad’s eldest brother, Ram Periappa (Uncle). This was a poem for my Granddad, when he went, in 2007. Since then, his brother and brother in law, have also passed away.

By God’s grace, I was able to meet many of them their older years, albeit briefly, despite having spent very little time with them, having grown up continents apart and feeling the bond we intrinsically shared. Great Aunt Balambigai, in my eyes, was free-spirited and followed her bliss, much like I’m doing. She was a playwright, a Saraswati Veena player and she even played the Sitar beautifully, from what I’ve gathered. In this photo, which is quite grainy due to back light, she was inscribing her book of radio plays, Salangai Oli for me. Said my Dad: “Two songs she composed and sang come to my mind. “Valli Mohana pulli mayilvaagana” in Mohanam and “Hare Sree Krishna” in Yamuna Kalyani. Does anyone have these two songs? I would love to have them.” If anyone can help, please reach out. They are songs sung in Hindu temples, I’m told.

My Uncle Ram was an engineer and worked in the Telecoms sector. A brilliant man, who was charming, as well as non judgmental. He was a shining light for my Father and his siblings and I remember watching the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana at his home. He had a lot of Corgi Diecast Model cars and tons and tons of books. He was a gadget man and my Dad shared this on Facebook: “There is so much I can say about what he has done for me, but words fail me now. He was the brainiest in the family and the valve-based Hi Fi systems he constructed were the best I have heard. This was the main reason for my interest in Hi-Fi. I know tributes will come pouring in now and all I can say is: May he rest in peace.”

My Dad did something wonderful for my birthday, a few years ago – he digitised all the photos over the years, in his possession. As a result, I can share these gems. 2 are very old shots, from my Great Aunt’s collection. Real treasures, showing her at her finest – If you spot it, there is a tiny child with a flute above the photo on the bottom left – I believe this is my Mother! The photo of the brothers, has my Dad and 2 brothers who’ve passed away, to his right, including Uncle Ram and my photographer Uncle, Bala. It was taken on my Dad’s wedding day. On the left of my Dad, is Uncle Hari, who resides in Toronto.

As a tribute to my relatives who’ve moved on, I shared a quote from Harry Potter, which I resonated with: “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I also shared this amazing image, captured, by Mio Nino Marquez, as in Hinduism, it is Lord Shiva, who is associated with passing on. This is a super stunning photo of the Shiva temple, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, in Bali, Indonesia.

This is a poignant Lord Shiva prayer, for them:

Aaandham paramam nithyam kaivalya pada dhayinam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi

“What can death do to the one,
Who salutes with his head that god
Who is happiness,
Who is beyond thought,
Who is stable,
And who grants salvation.”

Said Lata Desai, of the London sitar ensemble, about this image, on my Facebook page: “I honestly don’t know where you get these kind of gorgeous images from?! Keep posting them. They are a delight to my eyes.”

My reply is in the below image, including some photos of my many moods, over the years – thanks to all the photographers who’ve graced my life. Life goes on and my take on it is that one must continue to smile through every aspect of it.

Ill Manors – are children a product of environment?

Ben Drew, aka Plan B has grown from strength to strength, since his musical debut in 2006. His directorial debut is a dark, gritty and often squeamish look into the effects of the drug trade in East London. The film is multi-threaded and multi-layered, and tells a realistic tale, that can only come from someone who has insider knowledge of these topics. Drew’s Forest Gate upbringing and knowledge of the area shows clearly.

A lot of the film was shot in Manor Park, a place that personally brings back memories, as I lived and schooled there for a small part of my life, yet it is a side of life I never saw there. I was always home straight after school and my friends from Plashet school, were in a similar boat to me – our Parents made sure that – education was number one, we had no ‘social life’ and apart from any travelling we did, TV, in our safe domiciles, was our only ‘out’ to the world.

The area has not changed much since the last eighties (I know, because I visited there recently, to try out some Jaffna Tamil and Keralan food), and as the landscape of places like Stratford change, gentrification is yet to reach this area, despite the Olympic Billions, which provides the perfect backdrop for such a story.

Some of this film was reminiscent of Dexter Fletcher’s brilliant debut, Wild Bill, which was also set against the Olympic village of London and it’s surrounding areas. Having also lived in a rather dangerous council estate, like with Joe Cornish’s Attack the block, and having witnessed kids embroiled in the drug game, this film was indeed a worrying look at the ‘other side’ of life in London.

In terms of casting, the entire spectrum of actors, from the youngest to the oldest, fit the part extremely well. For me, Riz Ahmed has always shown promise, especially after seeing him most recently, in Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, Four Lions and Shifty. He embodies every role he plays and I am indeed looking forward to him bringing to life, the role of Changez, in movie of the brilliant book of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. But I digress. BAFTA nominated Natalie Press was impressive, as were Nick Sagar and Anouska Mond.

One of the things that stuck out the most to me, was the simple yet effective anecdotal poetry, that etched each character and their motivations – weaving this into the story’s narrative is indeed a touch of genius. Drew’s lyrical prowess and mastery of the storytelling aspects of Hip Hop show a very mature and crisp use of rap music, which is often vilified in the media.

Most disturbing, for me as a fellow woman, was the portrayal of the female characters in this film – there was not a single strong, self assured woman character, to balance out those who had to endure terrible circumstances, due to their drug habits, or childhood abuse, thus turning to prostitution and such. While it is a slice of life, there are many women who beat the odds of getting drawn into this world. That would be my only criticism of the screenplay.

Just one character who shows strong parenting, would have balanced this out, somewhat, as there are millions of well brought up kids, who would never fall into such traps, for every one kid who does. Of course, the female social worker of Aaron (Riz) comes into the picture, but only just – she obviously taught him well and his is largely the moral compass in the film, as a result.

Many Parents forget to actually ‘Parent’, but try to be a friend to children who are already in an environment which is conducive to danger. This, sadly, is a truth of life around the world – busy Parents who allow the TV to be a babysitter, Parents who have no time, due to work commitments, to see who their children are spending time with and more often than not, lack of childcare, which is increasingly ‘too expensive’ to bear the brunt of.

Lack of strong, smart role models in the lives of kids, who see reality TV and 15 minutes of fame as being their only goals in life. Kids who dream of becoming a ‘drug lord’, as they see that as being a position of power. These are all realities that even the British rich have to face. But Drew, himself a product of such a society, has shown that he has not only come past what may have been and that he can provide intelligent social commentary, which packaging it into a tough to watch, yet is powerful and must be seen by as many people as possible.

The film also serves, in my humble opinion, as a political wake-up call, about issues that are almost always glossed over. It comes in the aftermath of the London riots and showcases how many kids are born into lives of crime. Some shocking scenes stand out and remind us all, that life is cruel to many, BUT, their proclivity for good can always overcome. The film spells out hope, in way of the baby, who is a metaphor for a brighter future. It also shows that a mother’s love can defeat all odds.

I especially enjoyed seeing Plan B’s cameo in this film and applauded that he captured the humanity of otherwise misguided characters. Like Noel Clarke and his realistic movies, in which Drew acted, he shows an incredible insight into a part of Britain that many of us would not like to acknowledge, let alone help to change. I look forward to seeing him in The Sweeney with one of my favourite British actors, Ray Winstone. Kudos, Mr Drew. Catch Ill Manors at cinemas all over the UK, on general release from 6th June – do be warned that much of the content is disturbing, raw and very gritty.

Cable Cars in Greenwich, Rosemary Fries and Naughty Chai

A pictorial blog of sorts, of some fabulous recent moments. As usual, my love for life entails family and friends, food and drink, beautiful views, films and music.

First off, it was the hubby’s birthday and we enjoyed that awesome Cineworld D-Box experience with Avengers, which has now broken a plethora of worldwide box office records. I may have already mentioned them, but here’s the visual – the Gourmet Burger Kitchen does these super yummy Rosemary fries – perfectly salted, herbed (if that’s even a word) and beautifully crisp. As described on the menu, these indeed encapsulate one of my favourite foodie words, ‘moreish’.

I was very excited when my dear friend Charles Bosco, a young British Asian music producer, told me that the cable cars of North Greenwich were almost in action, more so, when I saw them being tested – I won’t comment on how this may affect the British tax payer. Emirates, the airline, has made these to facilitate easier crossing over the River Thames, in line with the London Olympics. The last time I’d been on a cable car was on a trip to Mount Pilatus, in gorgeous Switzerland, what seems like an eternity ago. And before that, my reminiscence was in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, as a child, where one of my most favourite memories happened – I touched a cloud. As I recollect, it was absolutely magnificent, I jumped, touched and it felt like snow, only better.

As we’re dwellers of the newly Royal Borough of Greenwich, we frequent the O2. I’m always fascinated by the sunsets in that area and love exploring. This is the Quantum Cloud, by the famous ‘Angel of the North’ artist,  Antony Gormley – his tallest sculpture to date, I’m told. This sits very close to the cable car area and fits it’s surroundings very well. I remember becoming a fan of his art after seeing Zero degrees, with the dance legend Akram Khan, whom I recently had the pleasure of meeting at the South Bank Centre. This production also featured the superb Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the brilliant British musician, Nitin Sawhney.

This is the O2 at sunset, just as one of my oldest friends, the hubby and I headed to see Morten Harket of A-ha, a Norwegian pop group that I loved as a kid in Nigeria. I dedicate this experience to one of my old friends, who introduced me to their work – Manosha in Michigan. Their Take on me video, is still one of the most creative visual works I’ve seen, and for a guy in his early 50s, Harket is looking fabulous and still hits those falsetto notes he’s renowned for, with perfect pitch. This blog by Akin Aworan captures the sold out concert at IndigO2 to a tee.

Next up, 3 perfect culinary moments. It’s no secret to those who know me, that I am extremely partial to Dishoom, the fabulous Parsi style ‘Bombay cafe’, in the heart of Covent Garden. After one of our BAFTA meetings for the upcoming London Indian Film Festival, my dear friend Naman, who is a renowned journalist, academic and writer (more on him another time), and I headed down. We were presented with the brand new Thums up float, a heady non alcoholic mix of India’s Coca-Cola substitute, until Coca-Cola came back with a vengeance circa 1993. Teamed with good quality vanilla ice-cream (complete with vanilla bean flecks), it truly was a lovely juxtaposition of flavours.

Then came some spicy yet yummy kebabs, with the 3 Dishoom condiments, tamarind, coriander/mint and chilli.

I topped this off with some ‘naughty’ chocolate chai, a firm favourite of mine, from when I tried it before my surgery, back in early December 2011, at a special tasting event.

As always, bidding you wonderful memories and make every minute count, even if it means taking time out to reminisce about how beautiful life is and how God’s nature is truly magnificent.