Utkarshini Vaishishtha is one of a few female screenwriters in India whose film has grossed over Rs 100 crores (over $13 million), the gold standard of Bollywood. Her work on “Gangubai Khathiawadi” has helped see it become one of the most successful Bollywood film after the pandemic. The film is also receiving rave reviews for the performance of Alia Bhatt as the titular character.
‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is another of the long list of women-centric films made by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has a legacy of making films based on strong female characters. His latest offering was in the works for 10 years, but kept taking a back seat to other projects, such as “Ramleela,” “Bajirao Mastani” and “Padmaavat.”
Vashishtha, a veteran of the television world in India and the Middle East, was working on a television reality show in India after finishing film school in New York when she was introduced to Bhansali, a judge on the show. Though she was part of the production team, she dreamed of getting into scriptwriting. Bhansali got wind of her plans and gave her “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” a book by Hussain Zaidi, and asked her to read the story of Gangubai in it.
“‘Game, set, match,’ the chair umpire called. The match was over. They have won but that is not all…She saw her partner Martina Hingis running towards her to congratulate the new number one women’s doubles player in the world. Martina was smiling radiantly with her right forefinger up showing the No. 1 sign. Martina came and hugged her.
“Her entire tennis career flashed before her. She struggled to come to terms with the momentous reality. Injuries and surgeries; autorickshaw rides in the early mornings to reach the court…thrill of winning, disappointment of losing…all swam before her eyes. As if she was seeing her own movie in the court.”
(Courtesy: Ace Against Odds by Imran Mirza, Sania Mirza and Shivani Gupta).
She went on to become the most successful woman tennis player in India. The inspiring story of Sania Mirza could encourage generations of aspiring tennis players in cricket-obsessed India.
Seema Azharuddin deftly dons many hats. An actor, producer, journalist, philanthropist and soon to be an author, she is also president of the Jaldhaara Foundation, which provides safe drinking water to school children and local communities in Telangana and across India.
Active in politics since her university days in India, she has kept those skills alive, her connections spanning administrations both in the US and India. Azharuddin was the spokesperson for the Indian diaspora for the presidency of Joe Biden. She has had an interesting journey and she shared it with SEEMA from her home in Maryland about her journey which started in a small town in Bihar, India.
It was a hot summer afternoon and the Zinta family was on a hike up the tallest peak near Aurangabad in India. Barely in her teens, the young daughter considered abandoning the ascent due to the difficult terrain. She dropped her bottle of water to indicate she was giving up. Her father, a military man, commanded her to pick up the bottle, fix her gear, walk up and finish the climb. Once she made it on top he told her “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You should learn to fight and stand firm for your reasons.” Seeking new summits to conquer comes naturally to Preity Zinta.
It is, in fact, in her Rajput blood, something which was instilled by her father, with whom she spent very little time in her life. She held on to every lesson he taught her for much longer; she held on to it much tighter because of the memories of him. An Indian army officer, her tragically died when she was just 14.
Preity Zinta has been scaling some lofty heights ever since and sets her target higher once she has triumphed over one.
While studying English and criminal psychology in Shimla – a hill station in northern India, Zinta had no idea that she would end up in Mumbai and be one of the most successful actors of her time. She spoke to SEEMA from her home in LA, while she had some respite from changing diapers and sanitizing feeding bottles, of her 4 month old twins.
She relives the circumstances which took her from the hill station to Mumbai, where her professional journey to stardom began.
As Samsara Yett’s character greets Kristen Bell’s for the first time in the satirical production, “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window,” she puts on a big, beautiful, disarming smile, one that effectively camouflages her real intentions. As the story continues, she plays the sweet little girl next door until she finally reveals herself in the last episode to be the who in the whodunnit. And then comes a fight scene. It’s impressive when you learn that Samsara is all of 9, playing a double role and then a cold-blooded killer of grown adults.
“The Woman…” is a satire that mocks the often formulaic and clichéd tropes in several popular bestselling crime thrillers, so it’s not immediately funny unless one has seen others with the tropes it includes — not really children’s reading. Yet, Samsara’s delivery was spot on, and her acting prowess drew praise from costars and crew alike.
But Samsara’s largely unfazed by it.
“When you’re a kid actor, you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t always understand the story,” she says. “When I act, I try to be natural. I act like I’m just talking, and pretend there are no cameras around. My job is to do what the character would do. Someday, I’ll watch the shows and get it.”
Family is not just an important part of your life but it is, in fact, everything. A compass that guides us, a protective life jacket in a storm, and a safe haven, family is an eternal, strong and secure bond. The love, warmth and guidance it provides is priceless and stays with you forever. There are high notes as well as low ones in one’s family, too, but in the end, you end up with a beautiful song! To celebrate this truly special social institution, the United Nations has designated May 15 as the International Day of Families.
Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, but our roots remain as one. —Anonymous
International Day of Families
In the 1980s that the United Nations shifted its focus to families and the challenges they face. In 1993, the General Assembly passed a resolution agreeing to celebrate 15-May as the day dedicated to the family system which is integral to a happy and healthy society. First celebrated in 1994, the UN uses this day to highlight key issues affecting families and develop solutions to address these issues. Each year workshops, seminars and activities are organized around a theme making individuals realize the value and importance of families and communities.
The stigma against therapy revictimizes Indian American dealing with it, making depression an incredibly lonely battle.
Meena sat mortified as the EMT wheeled her through the hospital into the emergency room. The knot in the pit in her stomach continued to grow, even when the nurse drew the curtains around her to block her from view. She waited silently in the cold, sterile space for someone to explain what was going on.
“How did this happen?” Meena kept asking herself. In the moment, she did not realize that no single incident had landed her in the hospital but rather years of ignoring her mental illnesses.
Meena had always thrown herself into whatever was happening around her. When she started at Wellesley College, Mass. in 2001, she quickly became an active part of campus life. At the same time, she was struggling with extreme bouts of depression and anxiety, coupled with an inability to come to terms with her sexuality.
“I was doing all of these very public things, and then behind the scenes, I just hated myself,” she said.
The term “non-fungible token” refers to a token that is not fungible or is unique and cannot be replaced. Non-fungible is an economic word that can be used to objects like furniture, music files, and computers. Because of their unique features, some goods cannot be substituted by other items.
NFTs are digital tokens that may be used to indicate ownership of one-of-a-kind goods. They enable us to tokenize items such as artwork, valuables, and even real estate. They can only have one official owner at a time, and they’re protected by the Ethereum blockchain, which means no one can change the ownership record or create a new NFT.
As a representation of digital or non-digital assets, an NFT is created from digital items.
An old way of eating is gaining popularity among Indians. Taking a cue from Lord Krishna’s expostulations in the Hindu religious text, the Bhagavad Gita, its promises are great. Yoga teachers and alternative medicine practitioners claim that it can improve mental and physical health, boost immunity and promote longevity.
“The foods that promote longevity, virtue, strength, health, happiness, and joy are juicy, smooth, substantial, and nutritious. Persons in the mode of goodness like such foods. (Bhagavad Gita 17:8) “Food that enhances longevity, mind, strength, health, happiness and joy, that which is juicy, oily, stable and pleasant, is dear to one who is satvic.”
While much of this evidence is anecdotal, satvic eating is light on the stomach. It promotes whole, fresh, seasonal, nutrient-dense, and fiber-rich foods, forbids fried foods, stimulants like caffeine, and white sugar — all great rules to follow. When followed diligently, it truly brings out the flavors and vibrance of vegetables — if only one is alright with skipping meat.
I board the Vaporetto from San Zaccaria near St. Mark’s square. The large, express ferry slices its way through the placid waters of Canal Grande, spread like a gigantic, semi-transparent aluminum sheet in the morning sun. Majestic mansions and medieval cathedrals, with their ornate facades, flank the shoreline. I am in Venice, and after three days of wandering through its warren of alleyways, feeding the pigeons in the expansive Piazza San Marco, exploring some of the smaller canals that veer their way into the quaint, less-touristy neighborhoods and hopping over endless cafes for the perfect cup of joe or a fine glass of Italian Chardonnay, I decided to break free of the enduring allure of Venezia in favor of the seductive charm of Burano – Italy’s rainbow island.
Italy is dotted with its fair share of incredibly beautiful islands, but Burano is the most prismatic of them all with the kaleidoscopic facades of dainty, medieval houses lining the shores of this small island. Legend has it that the vibrant colors made it easier for the fishermen to find their way home amid the dense fog that enveloped the lagoon when they were returning with their day’s catch. The rainbow palette was synchronized in a way so they could distinguish their own house from that of their neighbors. In fact, laws are still in place whereby the residents of Burano need to adhere to a prefixed color scheme when they repaint their houses, so that no house sticks out as an eyesore in a color-coded neighborhood. A thriving tourism scene can well be the underlying reason for this, but it has definitely helped retain the island its fairy tale charm with its intense palette.
If you like to see a city under the lens of art, culture, history and food, the best way would be to visit a museum. And if you are in America, you will never be disappointed with the variety of museums. We list seven of the must-see museums in the USA here.
National Gallery of Art – Washington D.C.
Started in 1937, this is a space dedicated to European and American art and is located near Capitol Hill. The space was donated by patron Paul Mellon, the art coming from his personal collection. You can see the works of artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Dégas among more than 2,600 works. If you seek to learn more about European paintings, Italian Renaissance paintings and the works of masters of Florentine and Venetian art, this is the place to go. The best part is that it is free to visitors. Washington has some world-class museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History, among many others.
In her latest work, Chitra Divakaruni has lifted Maharani Jindan, an Indian freedom fighter from relative obscurity to international fame.
Divakaruni – an author, poet and a professor of writing at the University of Houston – has won many accolades, including an American Book Award. Among Divakaruni’s book-to-screen adaptations have been “Sister of My Heart” and the 2005 movie, “The Mistress Of Spices,” co-scripted by director Gurinder Chadha and starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.
Chitra Divakaruni’s latest novel, “The Last Queen,” published by William Morrow/HarperCollins, will be out in the US, May 10. There have been talks of a movie script as the book went on to win some early awards: the Best Fiction 2022 Award from the Times of India AUTHER Awards, and Best Book 2022 Award from the International Association of Working Women. It is long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award and the Publishing Next Fiction Award.
You find yourself quick to take action and dive right into a situation instead of thinking. Put on your brave face, let nothing faze you to move ahead against any challenge. You are highly driven, ambitious and action-oriented to manifest your goals. However, don’t cut corners to get a job done. A big change is expected in your career and relationship therefore, now is the time to trust in yourself and your potential and take the next step to press forward. The breakthrough you seek is already on its way. Don’t give up now. In money matters, be cautious. Do some research, but don’t procrastinate. If you’re looking for a new way to improve your health, start now.
April 20 – May 20
It’s not the time to jump into action but to lay still and delve internally. Life is teaching you how to balance relationships and elevate your self-worth. For your dreams to take shape and change to happen, it’s imperative for you to process old wounds. Tomorrow won’t be different if you don’t change something today. If you feel trapped in indecision, step back and objectively, reevaluate your job or career situation, relationships, and financial status. Walk away from the need to please others. What may seem like regressing may be just a reroute to get you to where you belong. Trust what you feel, not what you hear. Keep the faith, for what is yours cannot pass you by.