Tag Archives: Movies

reviews of movies and latest film world stories of Hollywood, Mollywood and Bollywood.

Remember Priyanka’s stylist Sophia Banks, she is now a Film Director

After Priyanka Chopra’s Oscar outfit became the most googled outfit in 2016, I got a chance to interview her stylist Sophia Banks. For that interview, I contacted Ms Banks directly via email and she personally handled the communication. Two years later she is a busy director in Los Angeles, and my communication for this interview was handled by her team.

Here is the interview with Sophia Banks where she opens up about how she balances her career and family. Her achievements prove that a woman can achieve her dreams with her grit, determination and hard work. Read on to know more…

Hi Sophia, it is nice to interview you after a gap of two years. What a career growth you had in these two years. From a celebrity stylist to a Movie director, how was your transition?

Thank you so much for catching up! Two years has really flown by. So much I could say about my transition into film making but, to start, I think that I was more nervous in the beginning to make the change than I should have been. That was one of the reasons that I did not pursue this as my career, to begin with.

A lot of people might not know that I actually started in film over 15 years ago. I went to school in Sydney but was discouraged to become a filmmaker and director because I was told I “couldn’t carry heavy equipment” as a woman. There were many more reasons that I was given by my “peers” at the time not to pursue the career that I really wanted to and it was suggested that going into Costume Design would really suit my gender role more.

That is how I eventually ended up becoming a celebrity stylist in the first place, which was such an amazing experience and one I will always cherish and be grateful for.

Luckily, many years later, the industry started to make major changes and a friend of mine and I were having a conversation about it one day. She pointed out that with all of these new improvements and the public eye being aware of the problems of lack of diversity that it was perhaps my time to fulfil my true passions. That is where it all started.

How do you manage to wear many hats? What are the various roles you handle right now, apart from being a stylist and a director?

First and foremost I am wearing the role of “mom” to my amazing and beautiful 10-year-old daughter. She is the biggest inspiration for me to work hard and be a success so that I can show her that we can do whatever we set our mind to and especially as a single parent, it is important for me to balance my work life and family life.

I want her to have the knowledge that she never has to sacrifice one for the other. I also currently have projects in both Television and Film on top of the commercial work that I direct so there is always something in development or in production. Balance and consistent hard work are how to make it all successful in the end.

Sophia Banks

Tell us something about your Short Film, ‘Unregistered’?

Unregistered was my first narrative short film. It’s a Sci-Fi love story that takes place in the not-too-distant future, Los Angeles, where the Government has enacted a “one child per household” policy in order to prevent a second famine.

Our story follows a young couple in love, Rekker (Trevor Jackson of ‘Grownish’ and ’Superfly’) and Ata (Dylan Penn) who are trying to navigate through their life, school and a semblance of a normal teenage life while living in a covertly hostile environment.

All seems to be well except that Ata is hiding something from Rekker which will test his love for her when he finds out.

Unregistered made it’s World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and has now been selected for 10 Film Festivals including the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival this August.

How did you come up with the project?

My grandmother is a survivor of the Holocaust and as a child, she would tell me stories of the oppression that her people experienced from the Nazi regime. She told me of the horrors of losing your loved ones with no way to fight back and what it is like to not only experience for herself but to have seen others experience the complete loss of their freedom.

It struck a chord with me and her words were always ones that I wanted to tell within a story. That is why I love living in a country like America. Of course, no place is perfect but in a country like America you see that the underlying theme to a place like this is “Freedom”.

My film explores a cautionary tale of what could occur when that theme is taken away from its people if we continue in the political climate that we see today.

How well was the film received by the critiques and audience?

It was such a wonderful experience to see people from all walks of life and backgrounds in those theatres and enjoying the film. You put heart and soul (and a lot of sweat) into making something that hopefully will resonate with others.  

I could not have done it without my incredible crew (such as Co-Writer Erin Dignam and DP Paul Cameron, ASC). It also would not have been the same without the incredible cast that we were lucky to work with.

Overall, I was incredibly humbled to have received the incredible honour of being the only woman selected in the sci-fi genre section for Tribeca. From there it has only continued to gain attention. 

Are you planning to make more movies?

Yes, I am actually working on developing several projects. I am also attached to three films set to shoot one after the other here in the next few years.

I have signed with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) for my agents as well as Circle of Confusion as my management team since the release of Unregistered. We are all working as a collective team to put out some amazing new projects together which I could not be more excited about.

What other endeavours are you planning in future?

Aside from our preparation for shooting my first feature by the end of this year, I am currently working with my development team on a series for “Unregistered”.

Commercial work has always been something that I love to do in between my other projects so I am also flying out to Australia for a large commercial project there, then flying back to LA for two new projects. It has really kept me busy! 

Other than being the stylist of Priyanka Chopra’s Outfits, what other association do you have with India?

Currently not as much as I would like! When I was heavily involved as a stylist I would work with Indian designers all of the time. I love the flair and unique take on fashion in India.

Today I would love to branch out and shoot projects in India if the opportunity were to arise. The landscapes and beauty of the country are breathtaking.

As long as you persist through barriers, continue along your path no matter what comes your way and to always stay true to your vision. Thank you for reading along about my story and I hope it inspires you.

What message do you have to give for the readers of Lifestyletodaynews?

I think that the biggest message that I would like to convey is that any person who has a goal or a purpose in life has a chance to make that dream a reality.

Sajeev Sarathie: This Keralite is a well-known Hindi Lyricist, Poet and Writer

He speaks such scholarly Hindi, that you will never imagine that Sajeev Sarathie was born to Malayalee parents in Kerala. He grew up in Delhi from the age of four and he became more familiar with Hindi than Malayalam. Now he is a connoisseur of Hindi Language and Literature. He has carved a niche for himself as a Hindi Poet, Writer and Lyricist. He is a much-loved writer the Hindi media to write of Hindi songs, poems and screenplays. He is doing tremendous teamwork to promote unknown talents. He is also part of radioplaybackindia.com a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. He also worked with Late President Honourable DrAPJ Abdul Kalam. He also wrote songs for Honourable Prime Minister Narender Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Bachao movement.  After the release of his latest song Bekhud, I had a voice interview with Sajeev.

1.     Tell us something about the latest song Bekhud?
Bekhud is my latest single, it is a romantic song which has an Arabic feel to it, Composed by very talented Krishnaraj and beautifully rendered by International pop sensation Biswajit Nanda along with super singer Hema Sardesai who need no introduction at all, the voice behind songs like Awara Bhanvare, Badal pe paun hai and many more Bollywood hits. She worked with the likes of ARR, Salim Suleimaan, Anu Malik etc, she is indeed a living legend, and we are fortunate to have her voice for the duet…
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

2.     Tell us about your life as a songwriter?

I am writing lyrics for the last 10 years collaborating virtually with many national and international composers and singers. Since most of them are placed in different cities of the world, we connect through the internet and do a lot of online jamming to create music. I started with an online platform called “Hind Yugm”, and in 2008 released our very first and literally a zero budget album called “Pahla Sur”, which has 9 songs, all done through our online jamming process. It was an experimental album released in the World Book Fair and became the second largest sold product of the event. 6 songs in this album were written by me and the kind of response I got really pushed me to go further and to take new challenges in this field.  After that, I produced two more unique albums called “kaavyanaad” and “Suno Kahani”. In Kavyanaad, we gave an opportunity to new generation music composers to compose great work of legends of Hindi Literature like Nirala, Pant, Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma and more. While in Suno Kahani we compiled 15 stories of the great Munshi Premchand in an album.
Another album of mine, “Beat of Indian Youth” which has 13 songs in 9 different Indian languages was released in 2013. This unique feature of this album has 13 songs in 9 different languages on one single theme saw it enter into The Limca Book of Records. Though I penned lyrics only for 3 songs, this album gave me the honour to share the lyrical space with our National icon and Ex-President Late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Ji in the song “Hindustan”.
One of my song from Pehla Sur, “Baat yeh kya hai jo” was recreated and featured in the movie Dam999, which was released in the year 2011.
Apart from my 96 singles which have been released so far, I have also penned for various initiatives/ movements by our Govt or other institutions. For example, one of my song “Druzba” was featured in Indo-Russian Friendship festival in Moscow. In 2015, I wrote a song for the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” movement started by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Modi Ji. “Hindi Meri Awaaz Hai”, one of my poems is part of the 10th standard curriculum in Maharashtra.
An anthology of poems, “Ek Pal Ki Umr Le Kar” has been published by Heavenly Baby Books.
Apart from lyrics I have also written a lot of screenplays for various production houses. So, overall it has been a very satisfying journey so far.
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

 4.     You are from Kerala, then how did you get interested in Hindi poems and songs?

 Yes, I was born in Kerala and while I was 4 we shifted to Delhi. So, both the places are a part of my childhood. My schooling began in Hindi medium while at home we communicated in Malayalam. However since all my friends spoke Hindi, so probably that’s why Hindi became the dominating medium for me to express myself.

 5.     You are doing tremendous work online for promoting unknown singers and songwriters,  Tell us something about your online web radio radioplaybackindia.com?

 Well, radioplaybackindia is doing very well and is a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. We promote original songs, involving amateur artists. We have a weekly programme called “Bolti Kahaniya” through which we podcast Hindi stories and is a huge hit among our audience. The blog is rich in information on Indian Classical music, Film and Non-Film music.
I host a programme called, “Ek Mulakat Zaruri Hai” which recently completed 50 episodes, featuring several famous Bollywood artists like Shubha Mudgal, Amit Khanna, Ritu Pathak, Shriram Ayyar, Ibrahim Ashq and many more.
There is another programme I host, “Geet Ateet” which takes the audience into an unknown or lesser known story behind the song; using some artist associated with that song.
Programmes like “Old is Gold”, “Mehfil-e-Ghazal”, “”Podcast Kavi Sammelan” etc are big hits of our channel.
I am one of the 6 founding members of the channel and though I have been given the honour of being Chief Editor; but to tell the truth I have not been able to devote much time to radioplaybackindia.
Sajeev Sarathie hindi lyricist

 6.     Your songs are different from the Bollywood film music or mainstream albums. Your songs have the nostalgia of the yesteryears. Do you have a huge fan following for your kind of songs and music?

 Of course, there is a huge audience for my kind of lyrics. Actually, I got a little surprised by your query on following for different style of lyrics and music. As a matter of fact, I am open to all form of music. Old, new, Indie, western…for me music is music and it’s my way to connect with the God almighty.

 7.     You were affected by polio from the age of one, Has the disability been a hindrance or an inspiration for your successful career in Hindi literature?

 We all have weakness and shortcomings, as no one is perfect in this world. Life. I would say that God has been kind that my disability is only at a physical level and I am very well aware of that; otherwise many people don’t even get to know what their weakness is and therefore find it difficult to move ahead in life.
As a matter of fact, now I don’t even consciously think of it until someone points it out. I think, when people talk about my progress despite my physical disability, I feel God is presenting me as an example for many others who have no physical disability; that they can achieve so much more in life if they only follow their passion with dedication.

 8.     Tell us something about your family and those who are behind your success?

 My parents always supported me. I have an understanding wife and two beautiful and gifted children, and all of them have contributed immensely in more than one way in all that I have achieved so far.
Apart from my family, I got strong support from my friends. I am really blessed to have such nice friends. And above all, its God, my best friend; who is always holding my hand.

 9.     Please recite one of your poem for us?

 Sure….this poem is titled “punar-janm” which means ‘Rebirth’
sangsaari kii had se pare,
Duniya kii jadd se door,
wo jiddi paak bedaag sa khwaab,
Dekha tha use jaate,
shaam ke dhundhalke men,
Doobte sooraj ke paar,
jahan samunder toot ke girta hai,
Kisi Anjaan si khala men…
Fir se lautne ko kabhi,
Kinhin a-janmi aankhon men….

10.            Have your written in English or any other language?

 No, I think I am not that versatile. So, for me, one language is sufficient for this life.

In conversation with Grady Long

Grady Long’s video had gone viral where he sings ‘Aayiram Kannumai‘ at the ‘Kairali Gandharva Sandhya‘ in Kerala. He sang in the presence of eminent singers K J YeshuDas and Usha Uthup and there were a couple of other stalwart musicians present including the composer of the song, Jerry Amaldev.

Grady says he was surprised by the rousing applause from the audience. His plan was just to sing and leave the stage. But he became an overnight celebrity in Kerala, and in the last one year the video of the song has been shared and viewed tremendously  on the social media.

 

 

 

Before singing the song, Grady tell the audience that he was introduced to malayalam movies by his malayali wife…..

I got an opportunity to have a video conference with Grady, his wife Suja and Children.

Speaking different languages is a talent, and Suja got the talent to speak different languages fluently. She uses English, Spanish and Malayalam in her daily conversation. Though Suja left Kerala for the US at the age of 4, she put in lots of effort so as not to forget her mother tongue.

After her marriage with Grady Long, 15 years ago, they both used to watch a lot of malayalam movies, whereby Grady learnt malayalam movie songs that included Aayiram Kannumai.

When malayli kids born and brought up abroad or outside Kerala, say that malayalam is difficult to master, an American son-in-law of Kerala sang the evergreen song with relative ease. He also gave beautiful musical twist to the song which surprised Jerry Amaldev and K. J. Yeshudas, and they appreciated him.

Suja Long is now on the mission to train their three kids to speak in malayalam. She even posted her first video of teaching her children basic malayalam. Her video has got good review from the media. She plans to make more videos in the coming days.

 

 

Before his tryst with malayalam music, Gary was already a well accomplished singer in the US, singing with many bands. He sings in various Genre and different languages like Spanish, German and Latin. He was also popular for singing Bollywood songs. Gary has also sung Tamil songs.

He will be singing more songs in India very soon, for which he will travel to India with family. He will keep us updated on the developments. And in the meantime Suja is teaching children malayalam so that they can communicate well in Kerala. Both Grady and Suja agree that to learn any language you need to speak the language, and you will make mistakes which is part of the learning process.

We wish Grady and Suja Long all the very best for their upcoming projects.

Meet Sophia Banks who styled Priyanka’s most googled 2016 Oscar Outfit

Priyanka Chopra’s Oscar outfit, styled by Sophia Banks, was the most Googled Oscar Dress of 2016. Choosing the right kind of dress and accessories takes months of preparation and hard work. Sophia Banks has worked with Celebrities like Amber Heard, Sharon Stone and John Travolta. Here is an interview with Sophia Banks, where she talks about her work with Priyanka Chopra; her professional life and her future projects:

Tell us something about yourself?

I moved to the USA, Launching a fashion boutique was the next step for me, it was called ‘Satine’ and quickly became award-winning Hollywood hotspot. Satine was written up in all the fashion magazines, shopped by celebrities  and because of its fashion forwardness, step me up as a ‘Trend Forecaster’ from which started my career as a fashion consultant. I began to consult to top fashion lines and design for them. One of my favourite projects was for fashion house Rodo where I was flown to Italy to design shows.

As well as styling I have been recently working as a director on fashion Commercials.

Which all celebrities have you worked with?

Of course Priyanka Chopra.

Amber Heard, Sharon Stone, John Travolta, Leighton Meister, Shay Mitchell, Erika Christensen and many more..

Sophia Banks the stylist of Priyanka Chopra
Checking out an Outfit with Priyanka Chopra

As a celebrity stylist, what are your responsibilities?

When I first start working with someone I create a style guide for them which we follow for them as a guide. I also create a trend book for them for the season.

Then I help shop and buy their entire wardrobe. I also search the world for the best dress for ever red carpet event so they make it in press all over the world.

For a lot of my clients, I do all the costume for films, TV and commercials as well.

It is my job to set a goal with them such as be a style icon or get most googled fashion dress of the year and then reach that goal.

How did you choose the famous Oscar dress of Priyanka Chopra that was the most googled outfit of 2016?

It was so amazing working with her, she is such a wonderful, kind, beautiful person who works so incredibly hard. We always had such fun choosing dresses.

For the Oscar look as it was a big deal we were very involved in the selection of the dress. We of course requested many gowns and flew to Montreal where Priyanka was filming to do a fitting with about 40 gowns in tow.

We then did the fitting and the white was a top option along with many others but it needs alterations.

What is your opinion about Priyanka Chopra?

I think she is an amazing, beautiful and incredible woman. She is also such a hard worker, she is always flying somewhere to shoot something between the USA and India. Her success is an example of what happens when you give everything it takes towards your goal.

I also love her attitude to life, she is super fun loving and easy going. We always had fun together.

Sophia Banks who Styled Priyanka Chopra
Sophia Banks in a television interview

Have you been to Priyanka Chopra’s home Country, India?

Yes I have, I am originally Australian, and so I have travelled to India and all over. It is one of my favourite countries, I love it there. It is a spiritual place for me, there is something special once you land.

Do you have future plans to work with in Bollywood or with Bollywood Celebrities?

Yes I am in talks with new clients right now and am excited to work with some amazing Bollywood talent. I am also working on my first script and am possibly looking at filming in India, so I think I have a lot of future there.

Sad Demise of Malayalam Actor Kalpana

Heartfelt condolence on the sad demise of the veteran malayalam actor Kalpana, 51.

According to sources she was spotted unconscious in her hotel room, in Hyderabad, around 6:00 AM. The versatile actor was rushed to Apollo Hospital where she was declared dead due to a cardiac arrest. Kaplana was in Hyderabad shooting for a Tamil and a Telengu films and for a film award function.

The News shocked the malayalam film industry which was left with a void after her sad Demise. A National Award winning actor, she gave many super hit movies pairing with popular comedy actor Jagathy Sreekumar. Her colleagues remember her as a dedicated and passionate actor who maintained friendly relation with her co workers. Her last film released in malayalam was Charlie. She also did unforgettable roles in new-age malayalam films like Banglore Days.

She was very active outside the film appearing as judge in reality shows on television and anchoring various shows. Her parents were Theatre artists, and both her sisters Kalaranjini and Urvashi and well known actors in Malayalam. Kalpan ventured into the film world as a child actor and both her deceased brothers also acted in movies.

 

10 Reasons Why ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Is not precisely a Bible Movie

Exodus

Before telling why ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ cannot exactly fit into the genre of Bible Movies, I would like to say that watching Exodus was a thrilling experience, the actions and costumes kept us glued to the seats for 154 minutes.  The epic story  is set in the ancient kingdom of Pharaohs with all the magnificence of the kingdom – the antique utensils and gorgeous actors in stunning attires.  For every occasion, the Pharaoh wore a different costume. While going for battle he wears gold ornaments and while in the palace, he wears precious stones.  Zipporah in the desert looked dazzling in her rustic attires and ornaments. Read about the Christmas celebration in a Church which is attended mostly by people of other faith.

Secondly, you get involved in the process of an aristocrat transforming to the Leader of Slaves, liberating them form 400 years of slavery. When the slaves’ doubt how he will make them cross the Red Sea, like a true leader, Moses urges the people to have faith and trust in him and the God.

Unfortunately I went to watch the movie with some friends who were not experts in Bible stories, so while watching the movie there were many instances when I had to give background explanation as the story unfurls on the screen. Therefore, I concluded that there is drama, action and adventure in the movie which is set in the overall frame work of the Bible story.

Psychological Thriller

The movie fits better in the genre of a Psychological Thriller because the story has more to do with the inner psychological battle of the two men in the movie ‘Man of God’ (Moses) and ‘the King’ (Ramses).

Emotional turmoil

At the beginning of the movie, Seti the King of Egypt sends Ramses, the prince, to a battle along with Moses. Before the two left a priestess predicted that Moses will save Ramses. The King gave both of them swords with name of Moses on Ramses sword and vice versa. As predicted, Moses saves the future kings life from the Hittites and there begins the mental turmoil of Ramses.

After the death of his Father, when Ramses became king he was completely dependent on Moses, who serves as his adviser. Therefore, the anxiety of Ramses is very clear when Moses is banished from the palace.

Moses’s psychological turmoil begins with episode when God talks to him through a burning bush. Whenever Aaron secretly watches conversation of Moses with God, he sees Moses was talking to  Stone.

God the boy 

In this movie, the God is an eleven-year-old boy while in the Bible God is the Father. Eastern Orthodoxy tradition sees  burning bush in parallel to the womb of Virgin Mary giving birth to the son of God without being harmed.  Is there any interpretation for the representation of God as a boy?

Moses wears general’s uniform

When Moses left the palace, he seems to have disowned nothing, not even the sword. Moses is usually represented wearing shepherd’s cloth and long hair. In this movie, he is always in a generals clothing and with clean hair cut.

The staff is missing

The most evident missing link in the movie is the staff of Moses that he used to split the Red Sea, and to perform miracles whenever there was a need. He turned it into a snake many times.  In this movie, Moses carries the sword given by the Pharoah with Ramases name inscribed on it.

The sea doesn’t divide

As you can see in this picture, the sea recedes like a tsunami. And the miracle happened when Moses throws the sword into the sea and goes into a deep slumber.

Moses cries for the Egyptians

Not just Moses, the audience will sympathise more with the Egyptians when Moses asks God to stop the plague because he cannot see the people he grew up with undergoing so much pain.

10 plaques in 10 minutes

Before you recollect the 10 plaques, they are shown at one stretch and also with added elements like the crocodile that killed people to make the Nile blood red. Many film goers are not familiar with Bible stories, the plaques required more explanation. Therefore, if you are not aware of the story of Moses then read articles like this one here before watching the movie.

Scientific interpretation of the plaques

An expert scientifically explains to Pharaoh the reasons for the plaque. Due to the bad climate, the water of Nile turned red and so the frogs jumped out of the River, which in turn resulted in a large number of fly and so on……….. The rationalised interpretation removed the supernatural power attached to the plaques.

Moses in just 40

According to the Bible, Moses left the palace at the age of 40 and lived in Midian for 40 years and returned to save the Israelites at the age of 80. Moses in this movie doesn’t look more than 40 till the end of the movie.

However the power and presence of God is acknowledged in a few instances. When Moses is unable to free the Israelites, God tells Moses that he would do the rest of the work and then the plaques begin. When Ramses bring the body of his dead child to Moses, he tells the King that not a single Hebrew child died that night. Finally, even if we assume that the sea was split by a receding tsunami, only the presence of a super natural power could keep the sea divided for 600,000 people cross to the other side.

After watching the movies when I asked my friends what they felt about the movie. They said that Exodus: Gods and King was an excellent movie worth watching.