Posted in Wednesday Table of Urania

Wednesday Table of Urania 6.6.18 Jackie Chan

I have liked Jackie Chan from the very beginning. I had a brief stint with karate, back in 1992 I think, don’t remember the year anymore, it was only one year stint. Our teacher asked us to watch martial art movies, they are still not very palatable to my palate, majority of them are violence based, barring few- and Jackie Chan was one of those artists who displayed his art without blood and gore. I quite instantly became a great admirer of his superhuman skills.

With time that respect only increased. First when I discovered that he does those stunts without any stuntman to replace him during dangerous scenes and faces the whistle again and again!

Then when I very recently watched a serial in which he was having a conversation with awesome “Simi Garewal”, boy, the childhood he lived! It was hell on earth! If you can watch it, it is available in youtube “Rendezvous with Simi Garewal” then add Jackie Chan. Some things can’t be explained in words.

The interview also captured his innocent and humble heart! It is worth a watch if you admire Jackie Chan.

Do you love this amazing artist?

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Wednesday Table of Urania 30.5.18 Sitara Devi

Sitara Devi (8 November 1920 – 25 November 2014) was an eminent Indian dancer of the classical Katthak style of dancing. Rabindranath Tagore described her as Nritya Samragni meaning the empress of dance, after watching her performance when she was just 16 years old.G:\l The epithet continues, and she is still described as the Kathak queen.

She gave performances in several parts of India, and in several other countries, including at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1967; and at the Carnegie Hall. New York in 1976.

Sitara Devi was born in on 8 November 1920, the eve of the Indian festival of Dipavali. Being born around Dipavali, she was named Dhanalakshmi . She was born in a Brahmin family, originally from Varanasi and later settled in Kolkata. Her father, Sukhadev Maharaj, a Vaishnavite scholar of Sanskrit earned his livelihood by teaching and performing kathak dances in different parts of India. Her mother was Matsya Kumari, related to the royal family of Nepal. Sukhadev Maharaj, while serving in the royal court of Nepal had studied Sanskrit and had done an in-depth study of the Bharatnatyashastra; he also practised and performed Katthak dancing in which he excelled. Kathak became a source of his living, as also a passion, which he passed on to his daughters, Alaknanda, Tara, and Dhanno; and his sons, Chaube and Pande.

She had met Rabindranath Tagore, and was encouraged by him to revive the lost Indian performing arts (like kathak), after that he passed away, and ensure elevation of them to a dignified status. Sukhadev Maharaj decided to realise this goal by contributing to reforming the kathak style of dancing. At that time, kathak was being performed by nautch girls or boys, and girls of decent families were not expected to learn this style of dancing. He decided to give religious input to the content, which was quite different from the content used by the nautch girls. Moreover, he decided to teach this form of dancing to his daughters and sons. Elders of his community were furious, and Sukhadev Maharaj was virtually excommunicated.

Maharaj and his family members had to face the ire of the community members, and his daughters were called prostitutes. This did not deter him in his determination. Devi, recalling those moments, said: “My father used to say that when Radha could have danced for Krishna why not our girls? Why should men appropriate the right to dance?” Maharaj changed his residence, and came to another area of Varanasi. He established a school to teach children including his own daughters and sons dancing. He admitted children of prostitutes who came to the school to learn dancing. Once, the law enforcement authorities came to enquire about the affairs of the school, and Maharaj presented a performance based on the tales of the Mahabharata. Sitara Devi had been watching her sister, twenty years senior to her, learning dance, and she had managed to learn dancing well just by observation and own efforts.

Like the tradition of the time, Devi was to be married when she was a small girl of eight, and her child bridegroom’s family wanted to solemnise the marriage. However, she resisted, and wanted to be in a school. At her insistence, the marriage did not take place, and she was admitted into the Kamachhagarh High School. While at this school, a dance drama based on the mythological story of Savitri Satyavan was to be enacted in a cultural program to be conducted by the students of the school. The school was searching amongst the students for someone to do a dance sequence embedded in the dance drama. Dhanno prevailed upon her teacher by showing her an impromptu dance performance. The performance clinched the role for her and she was also assigned the task to teach the dance to her co-performers in the sequence. After the dance drama, a local newspaper named the “Aaj” reported about the cultural program emphasising that a little girl name Dhanno had enchanted the audience by her dance performance. Her father saw the news, and this changed his perception about his girl with the “twisted mouth”. Dhanno was re-christened as Sitara, and she was entrusted into the charge of her elder sister, Tara for imparting her dancing lessons. Incidentally, Tara is the mother of famous kathak dancer, Gopi Krishna. By the time Devi had turned ten, she was giving solo performances, mostly during the fifteen-minute recess during movies in a cinema of her father’s friend. Her commitment to learning dance left her with very little time, and she did not continue her schooling. By the time she was eleven, her family shifted to Bombay. Soon after reaching Bombay Devi gave a kathak performance in Atiya Begum Palace before a select audience, which included Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu and Sir Cowasji Jehangir. She impressed Tagore who wanted her to give a special performance in Tata Palace of the Tata Group. There the eleven-year-old dancing damsel studied kathak, with all its nuances, for three hours. Tagore called her to felicitate her in the traditional Indian style of giving her a shawl and a gift of Rs. 50 as a token of her appreciation. Recalling those moments, Devi once said: “But as I thrust out my hand to receive gifts, I remember my father nudged me and whispered in my ear: ‘Don’t take only the gifts! He is a great man: ask for his blessings, girl!’ Obediently, I asked Gurudev to bless me that I would become a great dancer some day.”

Her debut was at Jehangir Hall (Mumbai), then the centre of metro’s cultural life. When she was a twelve-year-old girl, Devi was recruited by Niranjan Sharma, a filmmaker and a dance director, and she gave dance sequences in some Hindi movies. She stopped performing dances in movies, as they were adversely affecting her study in the classical dance, kathak.

Devi was married to Nazir Ahmed Khan then to K. Asif and finally to Pratap Barot, G:\lwith whom she had a son, Ranjit Barot.

Devi received a number of awards, including Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1969) and the Padma Shree (1973), Kalidas Samman (1995) and Nritya Nipuna.

She refused to accept the Padma Bibhushan award, declaring, “it is an insult, not an honor,” and as a report from the Press Trust of India quoted her saying: “is this government not aware of my contribution to Kathak? I will not accept any award less than Bharat Ratna.”

On 8th November 2017, Google showed a Doodle in India for Sitara Devi’s 97th Birthday.

Although her forte was kathak , she was also an accomplished dancer in many other styles of dancing including Bharatanatyam and many forms of folk dances of India. She also learned the Russian Ballet and other dances of the western world. With advancing age, her dancing activities diminished, and she was working on compiling a book encapsulating the research done by her father and her in the field of dancing, especially in kathak style of dancing. She taught kathak dancing to Bollywood celebrities such as Madhubala, Rekha, Mala Sinha, and Kajol. She envisioned formalizing her teaching, and planned to set up a Kathak training academy.
She died on 25 November 2014, at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, after a prolonged illness.

Article copied from Wikipedia.

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Wednesday Table of Urania 23.5.18 Shakuntala Devi

Birth Date: November 4, 1929, Bangalore
Died on: April 21, 2013

Shakuntala Devi was born in Bengaluru, India, on 4 November 1929 to an orthodox Kannada Brahmin family. Her father was a traveling magician who had rebelled against his traditional family to pursue this unconventional profession instead of becoming a priest or astrologer as his forefathers had been. Her family was a very poor one as her father hardly made enough to make ends meet. She could not even receive a formal education because of her family’s dire financial situation.

According to an anecdote, she started playing card games with her father when she was three years old. Her father realized that the little girl won all the games against him every day and suspected that she was cheating. He closely studied her as she played and realized that she was memorizing all the card numbers and their sequence as the game progressed in the initial rounds and used this knowledge to win the game. On discovering his daughter’s special gift he began taking her on tours and displayed her ability at calculation on road shows. Soon she garnered much attention and was able to earn considerable money for her father.

Word spread about her amazing ability and soon she started appearing at universities in southern India. She displayed her skills to the faculty of the University of Mysore when she was six and went on to demonstrate her ability at the Annamalai University. She also performed at the Osmania University and the varsities of Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

With time she became an internationally known name and she moved to London with her father in 1944. She travelled widely all over the world and demonstrated her skills in several countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Sri Lanka, Italy, Canada, Russia, France, Spain, Mauritius, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 1955, she appeared on a BBC show where the host Leslie Mitchell gave her a complex math problem to solve. She solved it in seconds but the host told her that her answer was incorrect as her answer was different from what the host and his team had calculated. Mitchell then rechecked the answer and realized that Devi’s answer was the correct one and the original answer was wrong. This news spread across the world and Shakuntala earned the title of the ‘Human Computer’.

She was often invited by educational institutions and in 1977 she visited the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, USA. There she was asked to calculate the 23rd root of a 201-digit number, which she solved in 50 seconds. It had taken four minutes for a professor to write the problem on the board, and it took more than a minute for a Univac computer to solve it.

She was also a successful astrologer and authored several books on the subject. In addition she also wrote texts on mathematics for children and puzzles. One of her most significant books was ‘The World of Homosexuals’ (1977) which is the first comprehensive study of homosexuality in India. The realization that her husband was a homosexual had made her look at homosexuality more closely.

Shakuntala Devi is best remembered for demonstrating the multiplication of two randomly picked 13-digit numbers—7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 on 18 June 1980. She correctly gave the answer as 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. This unbelievable feat of hers earned her a place in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’ in 1982.

She started the Shakuntala Devi Education Foundation Public Trust to provide quality education to children from underprivileged backgrounds. She also helped spread global awareness about India’s contribution towards mathematics.

In 1969 she was awarded the title of the ‘Most Distinguished Woman of the Year’ by the University of Philippines.

She received the ‘Ramanujan Mathematical Genius’ Award in Washington D.C in 1988.

She married Paritosh Banerji, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service from Kolkata in the mid-1960s. The couple got divorced in 1979.

She died on 21 April 2013 after suffering from respiratory, heart, and kidney problems for some time.

She was honored with a Google Doodle for what would have been her 84th birthday on 4 November 2013.


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Wednesday Table of Urania 16.5.18 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Have been listening to quite a sumptuous collection of this amazing singer for some time! He certainly had the power of captivating his audiences. When I listen to his songs the thing that surprises me most is when other singers/artists lose the attention of their audiences by the time they finish a five minute piece this maestro sang songs that are at the minimum 20 minute long, give take a minute or two and you won’t even feel that twenty minutes glided by!

I love his “Gorakdhandha” a lot, because of its deep meaning and his awesome singing. He certainly sang these devotional songs straight from the very depth of his soul!

You will get most of his songs with full lyrics in internet if you want. So you can try them with great gusto, I plan to copy the lyrics later.

I have become a complete fan of this awesome artist!

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Wednesday Table of Urania 9.5.18 Amita Dutt

Amita Dutt is the only dancing legend I have seen performing in flesh. In one word she is awesome! She used to go to Burdwan every year, and performed in Krishnasayar Park on Vasantotsav (Spring Festival), I watched her perform only once, could not manage another watch but she is simply mind-blowing.

I personally think that Kathak is one of the toughest Indian dances when it comes to impressing the viewers. Because it gives a lot of importance to footwork, like tap dancing. The other dance forms of India are a lot more colourful!

Anyways I was mesmerized by her performance!

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Wednesday Table of Urania 2.5.18 Helen Mirren

I absolutely love Helen Mirren’s acting and her total personality. She is one fabulous actress in my dictionary. I have seen quite a handful movies of this lady and they are really versatile!

On one hand I have seen her in Shakespearean “Tempest”, playing the role with great elan on the other hand I have seen her as an assassin in “red”. Then I have seen her playing a very real world editor in a movie with Russel Crowe, she absolutely fitted in into that real world role!

She is not only an amazing actress but her personality is very captivating. She is one of those actresses who will leave a permanent mark in your mind, that will stay with you for years after you watch one of her stellar performances.

Have you seen any movie by her? Love her?

Posted in Wednesday Table of Urania

Wednesday Table of Urania 25.4.18 Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon

Al Pacino and Susan Sarandon are most probably two of the very best actors of Hollywood. I have seen quite a few movies by these two actors and their powerful acting always leaves me fully moved. Won’t say I love all their movies but the ones I love have made me a full fan of these two actors.

There is another mystery behind it too! Ha! Whenever I look at these two actors I had a weird feeling! That if there was something called previous birth, in some previous birth these two were my parents! I don’t know why, don’t ask me why but I feel a strange bond with these two actors!

Few of my favorites by Al Pacino are Insomnia and a movie in which a psycho killer stalks him to kill him, using a gruesome memory of his past, the murder of his baby sister. I have forgotten its name but not his acting!

Susan Sarandon was divine in Dead man walking and awesome in Stepmom.

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Wednesday Table of Urania 18.4.18 “funny bones”

These are my favorite comedians not action stars! Very few actors can make me laugh- these four are amongst them! The fifth one is Sir Alfred Hitchcock, I watched a TV series hosted by him, and honestly the way he made me laugh Charlie Chaplin can’t make me laugh like that!

Rock, aka Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born on 2nd May 1972 in Hayward, California. He was a professional wrestler before he became actor. He is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time! Wow!

Even though he plays action roles mostly l love his light movies, movies in which he plays comic roles to be precise. He is funny without being vulgar. Just the type of comedy I like are abundant in his light movies. So I have seen some of his action movies but I watch his movies tooth fairy and journey to the mysterious island again and again! Will love to see him in lighter roles like them more frequently

Same thing applies about Vin Diesel aka Mark Sinclair, born July 18, 1967. Most of the movies that Vin Diesel does are action movies, period! But I loved him more in pacifier, in which he had to tackle three kids! He too possesses the same power that Rock has- if they want to make you laugh they will make you laugh without cracking vulgar jokes or making weird faces!

Even though they are extremely violent but I loved him in Pitch Black and the Riddick movies in which he faces the army of darkness (or whatsoever) and the one after that, in which he is left behind in a deadly planet.

He is one of the very best looking actors of Hollywood too I think! Don’t you?

Jackie Chan is most probably the first action hero I have loved, I have watched his movies since 1993-94 I think, some of his movies came to Burdwan, like police story, and I have watched them in hall and have loved this amazing actor, who instead of showing blood and gore in name of action shows some real skill beautifully wrapped in fun!

Jackie Chan’s birthday is on 7th April (1954). In case you want to wish him! I have seen his movies by the dozens, they rarely fail to entertain! I don’t remember any movie by him that has bored me.

Hugh Grant, born 9th September 1960 is the next one. He has acted in some serious movies too, I don’t remember their names, but he has acted really well in them. I mostly remember him for his bumbling charm, his clumsiness makes you laugh from heart! It is endearing and enjoyable.

There are quite a nice number of his movies I love to watch again and again and have a hearty laugh, movies like notting hill, four weddings and a funeral. It was joy to see him a new movie after quite a break, hope his roles will be bigger in the sequels of “men from UNCLE”.

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Wednesday Table of Urania 11.4.18 The “handsomes”

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV born july 3rd, 1962 in Syracuse New York is the best looking actor still acting I believe! He is a great actor too, don’t be mistaken and he has made a place for himself through his amazing “mission impossible” movies, I love them, and apart from them I have loved him in quite a few movies! Like Day and Knight, minority report, rain man, a few good men, interview with the vampire, jerry Maguire, oblivion… he is a fantastic looking man for sure! Is not he? As an actor I think he is quite good, never noticed in a big flaw in his acting!

Gerard James Butler- he is as handsome as they come! Right? He was born on 13th November, 1969 in Paisley, Scotland. I have seen him in many types of roles, flirt, seducer, lover… serious roles! He acts really good in all types of roles but it is his killer looks I am talking about! He is super handsome! Ha! I have seen him in lara croft cradle of life, P.S. I love you, butterfly on a wheel, law abiding citizen… I will skip the movies in which he is bad villain, don’t like to see him in the roles like Gods of Egypt!

Orlando Bloom aka Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Blook born 13th January 1977 in Canterbury England is a British actor and he is so handsome that he looked perfect as Legolas the Elf prince- period! There are different types of looks- and his is other-worldly! I am damn sure if he tries the roles of Roman Gods he will absolutely fit in. His inner goodness reflects through his acting, that is what makes his charm irresistible I believe! I have seen him in the pirates of the Caribbean movies and the lord of the ring movies, and have absolutely loved this fabulous actor! I will really love to see him in some super hit movies as hero! Most probably the reason that he is not getting his type of roles is these days Hollywood is suffering from “brat syndrome”! Hope this phase passes and we start enjoying decent people or good people like him as lead actors!

Brad Pitt aka William Bradley Pitt born December 18, 1963 in Shawnee US, is an awesome actor! Super awesome actor but here I am talking about his looks! His deadly looks! I have seen his movies by dozens because I really love him as an actor and adore his looks too, he he!

There is something about him which brings his characters to life, and they become him! As he has acted in good movies by dozens I will mention the first four that come into my mind- devil’s own, seven years in Tibet, interview with the vampire, sleepers! He just like Gerard Butler is super hot! Is not he?

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Wednesday Table of Urania 4.4.18 Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is another one of “Awesome” actors in my dictionary. I love so many of his movies- like Leo Capri’s that it is impossible to list them all! Some of them that are coming to mind right now are Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Pirates of the Carribbean saga, Charlie and the chocolate factory, who is eating Gilbert Grape, Benny and joon, ninth gate.

This is what Wikipedia wants to say about him: John Christopher Depp II was born on June 9, 1963. Well, he started his career as a musician! He played guitar with various local bands and then shifted to Los Angeles. Where Nicholas Cage suggested him to try acting! Glad that he did!

This is what I will love to say about one of my “The favorite” actors:

Well, he is one of the most versatile actors of all time I believe! Well, honestly, the only movies I skip of this actor are his favorite genre, the gangster movies, apart from that I have seen him in a dozen movies, and have repeated most of them a dozen times! I have loved him as Edward Scissorhand and as the very normal tourist of the movie tourist! But I will say that he plays the role of eccentric or our of box characters with extreme expertise! Roles like Edward Scissorhand, Ichabod Crane, Sweeney Todd or the inspector from “From hell”, or Gilbert Grape.

I don’t remember seeing him in any mushy romance though! Then I have not seen anyone else playing Edward Scissorhand, if you ask me, it is one of my all time favorite movies.

The thing I love most about Depp is his extreme expertise to play larger than life roles and do it without being vulgar or surreal. Captain Jack Sparrow is someone you can sit and watch with your whole family, I mean Indian family!

The movie I loved him most is Edward Scissorhands, he just walked into the skin of Edward and stayed there. Leaving behind a movie that crossed the mark of awesome! It is one of my forever favorite movies.

I am sure you have seen many of his movies… I hope so at least! When it comes to Russel Crowe, Johnny Depp and Leo Capri I don’t even try to hide that I absolutely love their acting! So, I wonder what you think of their acting!

Spill it out!