Unlike celebrity kids groomed for tailor-made debuts, outsiders have to contend with harassment and gruelling routines.
It took a minute for Malhaar Rathod, then an aspiring teenage actress, to realise what the 65-year-old Indian film producer was asking her to do — and to make the decision to walk away.
“He claimed he had a part for me and then asked me to lift my top. I got so scared, I didn’t know what to do at first,” Rathod, now an up-and-coming television star, told AFP in Mumbai.
Her experience with what is euphemistically known as Bollywood’s “casting couch” culture underlines the challenges facing anyone seeking to break into India’s massive, insiders-only film industry, where the #MeToo movement has secured few wins.
After #MeToo triggered the downfall of top Hollywood powerbrokers like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, many women in Bollywood spoke up about their experience of sexual harassment, breaking a long-established culture of silence.
The Indian industry has largely looked the other way however and many of the alleged perpetrators have been able to revive their careers after lying low for a few months.
Movie-mad India is the world’s largest producer of films, with around 1,800 releases a year in multiple languages, easily dwarfing Hollywood’s output — but forging a career in the nepotistic industry can be a challenge.
Unlike the children of celebrities who are groomed for stardom and tailor-made debuts, outsiders have to fend off lecherous men and contend with a gruelling routine of auditions and rejections.
‘Dream come true’
“It’s very difficult to crack Bollywood if you don’t have connections. No one is going to offer you a launch, you have to do small parts and work your way up,” actor Paras Tthukral told AFP.
“I have done all kinds of jobs to survive. Worked in a call centre, in corporate gifting, marketing, you name it,” Tthukral, who moved to Mumbai in 2008 and has since appeared in two TV shows and a couple of films, added.
“An alternative career would have been easier for sure… but being an actor is a dream come true.”
Rathod is one of the lucky ones. After her early brush with the casting couch, she is now a familiar face to Indian viewers, appearing in advertisements for global skincare brands including Garnier and Dove.
The sole breadwinner for a family of five including two younger sisters, she has managed to make inroads into television with a part in the hit show Hostages on India’s Disney-owned streaming platform Hotstar.
The 25-year-old is hoping to see that success translate to the silver screen, following in the footsteps of film stars such as Preity Zinta and Deepika Padukone who began their Bollywood career with advertisements.
But she is keenly aware that it could all disappear in a flash.
“Waiting to hear back about roles has given me sleepless nights,” she said, adding that she has recently turned to prayer and meditation in a bid to calm her mind.
“You can’t have too many expectations, otherwise you will be perpetually disappointed.”
For every success story, there are tens of thousands of aspiring actors who fail to make it into the big leagues.
Even so, more and more people are joining their ranks, lining up for auditions in Mumbai’s northern suburbs where Bollywood’s major studios are based.
Thrill of acting
Casting director Girish Hule told AFP the number of actors vying for roles in the adverts he handles has more than doubled since 2014.
“I have even come across doctors and engineers who quit stable jobs because they wanted to act,” he said.
“Years go by waiting for the big break. People go back home or take up other jobs in the industry, working as stylists or assistant directors or in casting.
“In some cases, people spend five years, appearing at around 500 auditions and never get an acting job.”
The glitz and glamour notwithstanding, finding success in Bollywood comes with plenty of challenges — from battling sexual harassment to spending months out of work.
“In the beginning, I was too scared to even tell my mom when someone misbehaved, because I thought my family would stop me from pursuing acting,” Rathod said.
“I am so glad #MeToo happened here — before that, it was just going on and no one was talking about it,” she said, referring to sexual harassment in the industry.
For Tthukral, who is well-versed in the ups and downs of the business, the risks are secondary to the thrill of acting, which he compares to a drug.
“My parents don’t understand how I live — they just want me to settle down and run their business. Part of me wants that too, it would be an easier life,” said the 34-year-old, who moved back to his hometown of New Delhi this summer.
But then he added, “I will return when I have made some money.”
“I will be somebody. I don’t know when the break will come but it will come.”
NBA 2K22 update 1.08 patch notes and Season 3 release date confirmed | Gaming | Entertainment
A new NBA 2K22 update is available to download today ahead of the game’s Season 3 launch.
While we don’t have a rundown of everything that’s included in the new patch, we do know what will be added to the game later this week.
That’s because Visual Concepts has confirmed that NBA 2K22 Season 3 will release on Friday, December 3, across PlayStation, Xbox and PC platforms.
The development team behind the hit Basketball sim has confirmed that Season 3 will be called Iced Out and will bring a festive feel to the game’s social hubs.
A new deal with Def Jam Records also means the introduction of fresh music and tracks, as well as the headlining Clutch Time mode in MyTEAM.
As mentioned above, Season 3: ‘Iced Out’ focuses on the clutch gene, showcasing Damian Lillard’s ability to bury the competition with some of the coldest game-winning shots in NBA history.
A message from NBA 2K adds: “Being a clutch player means you need to have ice in your veins, and the ability to be unfazed by any situation. Portland Trail Blazers star point guard, Damian Lillard, has made a habit of freezing the competition and burying them with some of the coldest game-winning shots in NBA history.
“For NBA 2K22 Season 3, we’re calling upon all players undeterred by the elements to channel their inner Damian Lillard and showcase their clutch gene in what will be NBA 2K22’s coldest season yet.
“Decorated from top to bottom with garlands and wreaths, the City and the Cancha Del Mar will be your home away from home this holiday season. For six weeks, beginning December 3, joy and cheer will blanket the courts like a fresh snowfall, and you’ll swear you can smell hot cocoa and chestnuts in the air.
“From new rewards to chilly pickup games on the rooftops of the City, Season 3 will celebrate the Holiday season and ring in the New Year with fresh, festive content.”
At the heart of the City, gamers will find a full Holiday tree laced with ornaments, twinkling strands of lights, and presents abound sitting at its base.
And on the morning of December 25, everyone will be able to head to its base to claim a present on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, or directly to account on Xbox One and PS4.
Other features coming during NBA 2K22 Season 3 include the following:
ALL-NEW SINGLE-PLAYER GAME MODE: ROOFTOPS
NBA 2K22 features some of the most scenic courts in the history of the franchise, and starting in Season 3, we’ll be taking things to the next level by introducing the City Slam. On PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, battle in a series of 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 competition against players that take place exclusively on City rooftops, all orchestrated by the great Jackson Ellis. Convince sceptical streetballers to join your team by beating them on their own turf, then bring your custom-built roster into the final City Slam tournament, where you’ll compete in a variety of challenges against increasingly elite opponents. Playing in the City Slam will earn you some fantastic rewards, including a championship belt for winning the whole thing.
2XP COIN UPDATE
We want to address a change we’re making to the way 2XP Coins work in NBA 2K22 Seasons. Starting at the beginning of Season 3, your previous 2XP Coins will not transfer over from Season 2. While we’re changing the format from Season 1, we believe this will improve the Season-to-Season experience and competitive balance. Going forward, 2XP coins will now remain tied to the Season they were acquired in, so make sure to use those 2XP Coins as you’re leveling up in this Season and beyond.
Donald Trump now senses his opportunity to win back the White House
I’m back at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is home to many of America’s richest and most famous citizens, but the best known of all of them is, of course, Donald Trump. Since my last visit here at the end of April, little has changed. Everything from the perfectly manicured lawns to the beautifully painted buildings is impeccable.
Over the coming months, this part of America will effectively be the headquarters of the Republican Party movement. Just as those seeking the blessing of Europe’s monarchs centuries ago would pay homage to kings and queens, so a never-ending stream of potential candidates come to meet Trump seeking his backing. They know that his personal endorsement will make a huge difference in the primary elections coming up.
Yes, some of the old guard, country club Republicans like Senator Mitt Romney may still be around, but there is no doubt that this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party now.
Apart from having a good time here, the purpose of my visit is to conduct a sit-down interview for GB News with America’s 45th President. It is the first interview with an overseas organisation that he has given since long before the 2020 presidential election, making it a genuine exclusive outside of America.
Trump is the man whose every move and comment once dominated global news. But now that Twitter, his primary means of communication, has banned him, he has effectively been silenced. Ahead of the interview, I reflect privately on how astonishing — and deeply worrying — it is that the leadership of the Taliban is still allowed to use Twitter but Trump is not.
He appears to be noticeably lighter than he was when he occupied the White House. Living primarily at Mar-a-Lago certainly seems to be having a positive impact on him, yet burdens remain on his shoulders. The Democratic Party is pursuing a modern day Spanish Inquisition into the storming of the Capitol by a group of his supporters. The Democrats believe that the attack was an attempted coup and are busy indicting many of Trump’s former aides.
To make matters worse, rumours continue to swirl that the New York tax authorities intend to go after Trump’s children. I have known Trump for long enough to see that he is living under considerable strain.
Whether you like him or loathe him, however, one thing is beyond doubt. He is a fighter who never gives up. Not only is he handpicking candidates at all levels for the party, but I can see that he wants to put himself at the centre of the campaign for the midterm elections in November 2022, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested, together with 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate.
Perhaps the most illuminating part of our conversation comes when I ask him why, once again, he would give up his enviable life in Florida to go back into the sewer of politics. “Well, if you love your country, you have no choice,” he answers, adding: “I think you will be very pleased.”
As he utters those words, all signs of the burden lift. The mischievous Trump, the heavyweight fighter relishing the chance to win back his crown, is back. But can he succeed?
The narrative pushed by some that the 2020 election was stolen from him is, I would say, harming his chances. Admittedly, we in the UK know from our own experience of postal voting that this system is open to fraud and intimidation, whichever country it’s used in. But I have seen private polling illustrating that 20 per cent of potential Republican voters are demotivated by the “stolen election” message.
My sense is that Trump must very quickly turn this around into a positive campaign for electoral reform, state by state. His voter base adores him, and he has made great inroads into the black and Latino vote, but he still has much work to do to secure white voters who lead comfortable lives in middle class suburbs. They find Trump’s style difficult to take. When I put this to him in the interview, he denies it, but I would urge him to think again.
Aside from this section of the electorate, I remember a dinner I had some years ago with John Howard, the former Australian prime minister who won four general elections for Australia’s centre-right Liberal Party. Howard told me that no conservative in the Western world can win a majority without a large blue collar vote.
The Red Wall in the north of England is testament to this statement. Looking at the other Republican figures who could run in 2024, including the excellent Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, I do not believe any of them can reach those voters living in the eight states that make up the Great Lakes region in the way that Trump can.
As the Democratic Party makes the same mistake that the British Labour Party did by moving to the hard Left, the opportunity for Trump to appeal to these voters is enormous. Yes, three years is a long time and a lot may happen between now and the next presidential election. But after this encounter, I genuinely believe that my friend will be back in the White House in January 2025.
Delhi reports 39 fresh COVID-19 cases, zero fatality- The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: The national capital has reported 39 fresh coronavirus cases at a positivity rate of 0.07 per cent, and zero fatality due to the infection, according to data shared by the health department here on Wednesday.
Delhi has recorded seven deaths due to the infection in November. Four people had succumbed to the viral disease in October and five in September.
With the new cases, the coronavirus infection tally in the city has climbed to 14,40,973. Of this, over 14.15 lakh patients have recovered from the disease, the data in the Delhi health department’s bulletin stated.
The death toll stands at 25,098, it stated. According to the health bulletin, authorities conducted 59,507 tests, including 50,224 RT-PCR ones, on Tuesday.
There are 286 active Covid cases in Delhi, down from 287 the previous day. A total of 136 people in Delhi are in home isolation, an increase from 125 a day ago, the bulletin said. The number of containment zones in the city stands at 102, down from 106 on Tuesday.
Delhi reported 34 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, 34 cases and a death on Monday, 32 cases and a death on Sunday, and 27 cases and a death on Saturday.
In April and May, Delhi battled a brutal second wave of the pandemic that claimed a large number of lives and led to a shortage of oxygen and essential drugs at hospitals.
On April 20, Delhi had reported 28,395 cases, the highest in the city since the beginning of the pandemic last year. On April 22, the case positivity rate was 36.2 per cent, the highest so far. The highest number of 448 deaths was reported on May 3.
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