In September 2016, rumours were rife that Kriti Sanon was the leading lady of Nikkhil Advani’s next production, Lucknow Central, which marks the directorial debut of Ranjit Tiwari, with Farhan Akhtar in the lead. The film is inspired by a true story of convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the Lucknow Central Jail, who start a band and discover pride, self confidence and a reason to wake up every morning.

But within a month, Diana Penty was on board to play the NGO worker who puts the prisoners on the path of reform. Diana, who made her Bollywood debut in Homi Adajania’s Cocktail, shrugs off queries about how she came to replace Kriti saying it’s insignificant. “It all happened within three days of my meeting with Nikkhil and him briefly telling me about the film. His brief immediately piqued my interest and I agreed to meet Ranjit the next day for a complete narration. Once I heard it, I knew this was a story I wanted to be part of.

We did a reading the day after and before I knew it, I had landed the role and was shooting for the look test,” recalls the actress, who will be seen in salwar-kameez, long skirts and cotton trousers. During the look test, she met Farhan for the first time and admits they didn’t interact much during that meeting. But the second time, the whole cast came together for a reading and it was easier.

“I have always respected him as an actor, director, writer, musician and producer. I have so much to learn from him. He’s one of the reasons I said yes to the project,” she acknowledges. Apart from Farhan, the film also features Ronit Roy and Gippy Garewal. While Ranjit was keen to shoot inside the real Lucknow Central Jail, they did not get permission.


Source: Ahmedabad Mirror

Read more

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller review – in at the deep end

Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, was published in 2015 to wide critical acclaim and went on to win the Desmond Elliott prize. A successful first book is always a tricky act to follow, but with Swimming Lessons, Fuller confirms herself as a writer of emotional depth, technical skill and sensitive plotting.

The novel’s arresting prose is evident from the opening line: “Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.” His wife, Ingrid, has been missing for 12 years – presumed drowned – and Gil’s sighting proves to be the catalyst for the return of his two adult daughters, Nan and Flora, to their home in a converted swimming pavilion on a cliff overlooking the sea.

Gil is a writer, the author of a bestselling, notoriously salacious novel. He is also a collector of books, not for the books themselves but for “the handwritten marginalia and doodles that marked the pages, for the forgotten ephemera used as bookmarks” – and Swimming Lessons is a story in which all books contain their secrets. The authorship of Gil’s novel is less straightforward than his readers have been led to believe, while the piles of books that “rose up like sea stacks, their grey pages stratified rock”, contain letters hidden by his missing wife. Ingrid’s letters reveal the history of their marriage, and Fuller’s narrative alternates between the present-day reunion of Gil, Nan and Flora, and the letters Ingrid wrote some 12 years previously.

This is a novel of disappearances, where nothing is quite as it seems, and individuals are conflicted in what they choose to believe. There is Ingrid’s unexplained disappearance when Flora was only 10, and the family’s contrasting responses: Flora is convinced her mother is still alive, while Nan has long since given up hope. And there was, we learn from Ingrid’s letters, a disappearance of Gil’s too, which is teased out through the novel but only finally revealed in a shocking betrayal towards the end. Each of Fuller’s characters is on a quest to find a missing person, a search that becomes as much about the impossibility of fully understanding someone else as actually finding them.

What Fuller evokes beautifully are the complicated dynamics between fathers and daughters, sisters, lovers, friends. Fuller authentically conveys the paradoxical love and frustration between her characters: Nan’s limited patience with Flora’s denial about their mother’s disappearance; Flora’s idealisation of her father; Gil’s creative selfishness, his desire for a family life jarring with his inadequacies in providing what they need. This is a family where everyone is, in some ways, leading a double life; where there is always a conflict between internal and external reality.

While structurally Ingrid’s letters sometimes feel a little forced – there are moments when, tonally, they lack the familiarity of letters and read more like author-written backstory – they nonetheless reveal a compelling portrait of a woman trapped by the confines of marriage and motherhood, as well as the complicated love and rivalry within female friendship.

Swimming Lessons reveals a writer whose craft has been further honed and developed since her debut. Occasionally there are reveals that require a suspension of disbelief too far, but for the most part the plotting is compelling and subtle.

 Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller is published by Fig Tree (£14.99). To order a copy for £12.74 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

This article titled “Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller review – in at the deep end” was written by Hannah Beckerman, for The Observer on Sunday 26th February 2017 09.00 UTC

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Read more

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict New Hopes for Peace

Here are key terms and tidbits of information helpful in discussing the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel: On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.

Palestinian territories: The West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip.

Two-state solution: The idea that Israelis and Palestinians must work through direct negotiations to establish two states living side by side, with Palestinians to ultimately create their own independent state and the Israelis would keep Israel as a Jewish state.

One-state solution: The idea that Israel and the Palestinian territories would become a single, “binational” state that would include both Israeli and Palestinian populations. Opponents say such an arrangement would eventually force Israel either to lose its Jewish majority or rule over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians lacking full rights, a scenario the Palestinians wouldn’t willingly accept.

Oslo Accords: Agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the government of Israel signed in 1993 which were aimed at establishing peace in Israel and Palestinian territories.

Palestinian Authority: The governing body of the Palestinian autonomous regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip established in 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

SOURCE: Associated Press; U.S. Department of State

Read more