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‘My quest’: Indian star Priyanka Chopra brings Bollywood to Toronto

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas attends The Sky Is Pink premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. JEMAL COUNTESS/GETTY IMAGES/afp

No Indian star has made a bigger splash in Hollywood than Priyanka Chopra – and the Baywatch actress said she is on a quest to shatter myths about Bollywood, including its approach to sex.

Chopra was the first Indian actress to lead a primetime US series with FBI thriller Quantico, and cemented her global celebrity status by marrying pop singer Nick Jonas last December.

That star power secured a glitzy, red-carpet slot at Toronto’s film festival for The Sky is Pink, Chopra’s first Hindi-language film in three years. It is the only Asian film on the prestigious gala lineup at North America’s biggest movie festival.

“People get surprised when they see The Sky is Pink and they’re like, ‘this is not a Bollywood movie.’ Bollywood is not a genre!” Chopra said.

“It really is my quest to educate people in that.”

Directed by Shonali Bose, The Sky is Pink tells the tragic true story of Aisha Chaudhary, an inspirational Delhi teenager whose life was cut short by a rare genetic disorder.

Chaudhary delivered a TED talk and wrote a book on her battle before her death in 2015 at the age of 18. But the film focuses on her parents, exploring how their marriage and love – and even their sex life – survived the loss of two children.

Until recently kissing was rarely shown in films made by conservative Bollywood, better known abroad for its colourful musical numbers and fairytale romantic plots.

‘Dying wish’

“I don’t think we haven’t spoken about sexuality in Indian films – we do,” said Chopra, 37. “I think sexuality is spoken about in many different ways in Indian cinema.”

“It’s culturally sensitive, yes,” she added. “India is an amalgamation of modernity and tradition. And this film is made by a modern Indian. So hence, you see what her language is. This is true to who she is.”

Bose, whose own marriage ended after she lost her son, was approached by Chaudhary’s parents to make the film.

Chaudhary had been a fervent fan of the director’s work, and never fulfilled her “dying wish” to see Bose’s previous film Margarita With A Straw.

Bose said she was moved by the request but chose to focus on the parents after learning of their “amazing” love story and care for their child.

“They wanted the film to be about their heroic dying teenage girl, and I don’t feel she would’ve wanted to be on a pedestal – actually she was really cool and humble,” she said.

Chopra, who does not have children, said she drew on others’ experiences, including Bose’s, to play Chaudhary’s mother Aditi.

But there is plenty of Chopra in the role too. At one point her character is described as “the ‘almost’ Miss India.” Chopra herself was crowned Miss World in 2000.

Global outlook

As beauty pageants led to acting, Chopra, who attended school in the US, said she held onto her global outlook.

Also a singer, Chopra has released songs with US chart-toppers including Pitbull and The Chainsmokers.

“It’s a genuine quest of mine to be able to cross-pollinate cultures, and to be able to take Indian cinema to the globe as much as I can,” she said, adding: “It’s not the language that’s the barrier – it is the fear of the unknown.”

Movie-mad India has the largest film industry in the world in terms of the number produced – up to 2,000 every year in more than 20 languages, according to industry data.

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar regularly appears in Forbes’ annual list of the world’s top 10 highest-paid actors.

In recent years Bollywood’s influence has spread in North America, thanks to a growing, affluent South Asian diaspora – and a smattering of Western converts.

But while other Bollywood actors and actresses have landed high-profile roles in the US, such as Deepika Padukone in 2017’s XXX: Return of Xander Cage, none are as recognisable as Chopra.

“I really hope that there’s so many more entertainers from India that get the opportunity and push themselves towards global entertainment,” said Chopra.

“The world of entertainment is so global now,” she added. “With streaming coming in everyone from anywhere can watch anything.”

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Covid-19: Districts in west, north Tamil Nadu see high number of cases | Chennai News

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CHENNAI: The state has seen a steady drop in fresh Covid-19 cases; it reported 718 new cases on Wednesday compared to 990 cases on November 1. In the last four weeks, weekly average test positivity rate has also come down marginally from 0.8% to 0.7%, health officials said.
Seven districts – Tiruppur, Namakkal, Chengalpet, Coimbatore, Salem, Erode and Karur – have weekly average test positivity rate above 1%. “Whole genome sequencing reports show that more than 95% of the people carry the Delta variant. While we are strengthening surveillance to prevent entry or spread of Omicron, we have told all districts to ensure they continue to trace and test cases within the state,” said health secretary J Radhakrishnan.
Some districts in the west and north continue to report a high number of new cases. The eight western districts together reported 356 cases on Wednesday, while the districts in the north reported 260 new cases. Districts in the central and south zones reported 62 and 40 cases respectively on Wednesday.
While Coimbatore (118) and Chennai (117) are still reporting cases in three digits, Chengalpet, Erode and Tirupur are among the districts that report more than 50 new cases a day.
Fresh Cases have been hovering around 100 to 125 for nearly a month in Chennai and Coimbatore. Officials said the two districts have been seeing clusters from family reunions, workplaces and educational institutions.
“With fall in cases we have been seeing a steep fall in the number of people wearing masks,” said health minister Ma Subramanian. “Maintaining social distance and washing hands with soap and water are practices we must continue to follow. People should also get themselves vaccinated as early as possible,” he said.
Until Tuesday, 79% of adults in Tamil Nadu had taken the first dose of the vaccine and 44% of them were completely vaccinated. More than 2.6 lakh people took the Covid 19 vaccine at the government vaccination centres on Wednesday.
The number of active cases stood at 8,200. The 11 deaths reported on Wednesday took the cumulative toll to 36,492 and the cases tally reached 27.27 lakh.
Of the 11 deaths, there were two each in Coimbatore, Chennai and Salem and one death each in Chengalpet, Tiruppur, Trichy, Thanjavur and Dindigul. Thirty districts reported zero deaths.

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Countrywide Active Cases Rise to 99,763

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New Delhi: With 9,765 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,46,06,541, while the active cases increased to 99,763, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

The death toll climbed to 4,69,724 with 477 fresh fatalities including, 403 from Kerala, according to the data updated at 8 am.

Of the 403 deaths in Kerala, 96 were reported over the last few days and 307 were designated as Covid deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court, a Kerala state government release said.

The ministry said the daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been less than 50,000 for 158 consecutive days now.

“The active cases comprise 0.29% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.35%,” the ministry said.

An increase of 740 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours

“The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.89%. It has been less than 2% for last 59 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.85% . It has been below 1% for the last 18 days,” according to the ministry.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,40,37,054, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.36%.

The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 124.96 crore.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.

India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23.

The 477 new fatalities include 28 from Maharashtra.

A total of 4,69,724 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 1,41,025 from Maharashtra, 40,535 from Kerala, 38,213 from Karnataka, 36,492 from Tamil Nadu, 25,098 from Delhi, 22,911 from Uttar Pradesh and 19,498 from West Bengal.

The ministry stressed that more than 70% of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

(PTI)

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Keanu Reeves says ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ cast and crew ‘barely rehearsed, if at all’ on set

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  • Keanu Reeves told Entertainment Weekly “The Matrix: Resurrections” team “barely rehearsed.”
  • Reeves compared the filming of “The Matrix” original trilogy to the fourth movie.

Keanu Reeves told Entertainment Weekly that the cast and crew for “The Matrix: Resurrections” “barely rehearsed” when it came to filming the sequel.

The upcoming movie is the fourth installment in the sci-fi franchise about the battle between artificial intelligence and humans. The original trilogy was directed by the Wachowski sisters, Lilly and Lana, however, only Lana has returned to direct the new movie.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Keanu Reeves, who starred in the trilogy as Neo and reprises his character in the sequel, spoke about how filming “Matrix 4” compared to the previous movies.

Reeves said that Lana was “more behind the monitor” but “still hands-on” in the original trilogy. “The Matrix” star added: “[With ‘Resurrections’] she was participating more with the movement of the camera, and more interested in doing than rehearsing.”

Reeves then said that the team “barely rehearsed, if at all.” Reeves was not the only one to say that the filming of “The Matrix 4” was unusual.

In February, Neil Patrick Harris told the “Just for Variety” podcast about the filming: “It didn’t feel large because it felt like she was in her sweet spot, which was filming on the fly, filming using natural light. Sometimes you’d sit around for an hour waiting for the clouds to clear, and then you’d quickly film. You’d film pages at a time in 30 minutes and then be done.”

Keanu Reeves says 'The Matrix: Resurrections' cast and crew 'barely rehearsed, if at all' on set
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in “The Matrix Resurrections.”Warner Bros.

“You would think that a giant movie would be 100% storyboarded, animatics, and we’d be checking off shots,” Harris added. “I think she lived that before three times over, and I would suspect that she wants to do things her own way now. It wasn’t often that you felt that you were doing something gigantic because she made it feel very intimate.”

Jessica Henwick also told Collider last month that she has “never worked with a director who is going so much on a gut feeling.”

“She loves running takes, so we’ll often go 20 minutes without a single cut,” Henwick said. “Everyone had to be aware that it was 360, at all times. She would stand next to the operator and she would be shooting. Keanu is speaking and she’s shooting. She’s handling the camera, zooming in on him, and then she would just turn, and suddenly the camera will be on you, even though you’re on the other side of the line. That’s how she shoots. It’s very much how she feels, in the moment. It’s very instinctive for her. It’s fascinating to watch.”

“The Matrix: Resurrections” is in theatres December 22. The movie also stars Carrie-Anne Moss who played Trinity in the original trilogy. However, the movie also has new actors such as Jessica Henwick as Bugs, Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus.

Abdul-Mateen previously told Entertainment Weekly that his Morpheus is “a different iteration of the character” played by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy.

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