Fear of the afterlife? The army in Xi’an!

When did humans accept their mortality and the fact that if there was afterlife, it was certainly not like this one? The Pharaohs made elaborate arrangements for their own burial, packed in all their belongings, vast riches, all worldly comforts, made sure their consorts and handmaidens were embalmed with them, and prepared for a glorious afterlife upon death! But no preparation for death was as fearful as the one made by the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.
Qin Shi Huang’s burial palace complex was a huge walled compound with offices, halls and other structures, and with gateway entrances. To prevent the craftsmen working on the tomb from divulging its whereabouts, they were sealed alive inside! Historians tell us that construction began in 276 BC and more than 700,000 workers were involved in the building the structure. The tomb contained gold utensils, and other wonderful objects, including this exquisite chariot with horses.
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The gift of a father to a child! Dear Zachary

This weekend I saw Dear Zachary, an award-winning documentary by Kurt Kuenne. When Kurt finds out that his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, has died in Pennsylvania at the hands of his mentally disturbed ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner, he sets out on a journey to make a film to memorialize Andrew for his family and friends. Along the way he discovers that Shirley is pregnant with Andrew’s child and now the movie becomes a scrapbook that will help the child know his dead father. On this journey we meet Andrew’s parents David and Kathleen Bagby, and relive the tragedy of Andrew’s death through their recollection of the events. Andrew met Shirley when he was at medical school in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Shirley is charged with murder by the authorities and flees to Canada. Thus starts a harrowing tale of a parents’ struggle to put their son’s murder behind them, and learn to interact with the murderess so they can have access to their unborn grandchild. The child is named Zachary and the film addresses the events and information to him throughout.

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Under five feet and packed full of talent – Jaya Bhaduri!

To begin – I think that 5 feet 2 ” in the IMDb biography is bull! But do we care? No, because Jaya did not make it into cinema for her beauty queen looks and star presence. She started out as a 15 year old in Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar. Soon after she acted in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Guddi as a teenage schoolgirl, who has a huge crush on Dharam, so much so that she cannot see any other man. This debut in a film by a master director, that centered around an unknown young actress, was a success at the box office and Jaya became a phenomenon.
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The weirdest food you ever ate – or tried to……

High up on my list is the Durian. The King of Fruit?
“The 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. (Wikipedia) Despite the widely held Indonesian belief that this royal fruit has aphrodisiac properties, I have never been able to get a morsel into my mouth! The combination rotting onion and gym socks in a garbage bin smell that emanates from the fruit might be one reason. Note to self – next time try it with a clothes pin on your nose.

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Nutan – actress par excellence!

Daughter the famous Marathi actress Shobhana Samarth, Nutan entered films as a fourteen year old in a film produced by her mother. Nutan was part of the powerful Samarth-Mukherjee family and her sister Tanuja was a notable actress too. Rumors are she was so slim that she was told to put on some weight before she could do mainstream heroine roles. Her first big film was opposite Balraj Sahni in Seema and she won her first Filmfare best actress award for that role.

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The experience – Basu Bhattacharya’s Anubhav!

Basu Bhattachrya’s most impressive Teesri Kasam was followed by another quiet and hidden gem, Anubhav. Meeta (Tanuja), decides to shake up her staid in-a-rut six year old marriage with Amar (Sanjeev Kumar). The household help is reduced to one, Hari (AK Hangal), and that too because Hari considers himself more a relative that a servant and will not leave! Amar is buried in work and perturbed at this change. Then an old flame of Meeta’s, Shashi, arrives and wants job in Amar’s publishing business.

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Psycho Killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est? One of Jonathan Demme’s early gems

In 1984 Jonathan Demme collaborated with The Talking Heads to direct what is one of the best live concert films. Made entirely in digital audio format, and shot over three days, it is a visual and acoustic marvel. To a die-hard fan of The Talking Heads this represents the best of their music, energy and genius. The movie begins with the manic David Byrne coming on stage with a guitar and cassette tape player, then he puts a tape into the player and starts to sing. The opening credits sequence is right out of Dr. Strangelove and at the end of the first song Psycho Killer the music has staccato bursts of “gunfire” as Byrne staggers about the stage like Jean Paul Belmondo in the final moments of Breathless.

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