Tag Archive: dna


DNA- The Empire State of Mind


Ten pointers to get you started on your quest to tame the concrete jungle and become a New Yorker

Concrete Jungle

 Being a New Yorker is a full-time profession. It requires an extensive knowledge of every alleyway and shortcut nestled in the city, an insatiable appetite for culture, and the uncanny ability to draw upon huge reserves of energy like a metropolitan Hercules. Every profession, though, has its perks and being a local in New York grants membership to an evolving, vibrant and colourful city with an urban life force surging through its streets to the top of the skyscrapers.

So without further delay, here are the club rules for being a New Yorker:

–          The only time you go to Times Square is to laugh at the tourists as they gawp like badly-dressed moths at the flashing lights.

Times Square

–          You nurture a burning and irrational hatred for people from the neighbouring state, New Jersey. In fact, any mention of a New Jerseyite at a bar is more effective than a fire alarm for clearing people out.

–          You have worn spandex at least once while cycling/running in Central Park. A true New Yorker knows that appearances count for nothing when planning an efficient work out.

Spandex patrol, Central Park

–          You have mastered the ability to drink coffee, text on your Blackberry, scan the daily newspaper and update your diary. All while being crushed to near-death on the Subway.

–          The oven and washing machine in your flat are as unused as media baron Rupert Murdoch’s voicemail service. Take-aways and tailors thank you very much.

–          You are willing to pay more than $4 for a bottle of vitamin water because its label boasts more for your well-being than the Garden of Eden.

–          Your watering hole of choice is located in the most avant-garde stretches of Brooklyn, anything without a live band and/or a converted roof simply won’t do.

Radegast Biergarten, Brooklyn

–          You have eaten more raw fish than a grizzly bear. In the city’s many sushi bars, that is.

–          You go for massages in Chinatown. They may be in the living room of a basement apartment that smells of tuna salad but who can argue with the $20 discount?

–          You’ve never travelled up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, after all your friend’s rooftop garden a few blocks down doesn’t have a thirty minute queue.

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London is a honey-pot for the unsuspecting tourist, make a wrong turn and you could find yourself entangled in a mass of camera-wielding sightseers,    fighting for air. Take it from a local, knowing the city’s best-kept secrets is half the battle.

Green Park

Acquaint yourself with the English summer in the woody expanse of Green Park. Situated five minutes from the heartbeat of London, Picadilly Circus, it’s a welcome escape from the crowds. If lounging around isn’t your idea of a sight-seeing holiday then worry not, this Royal park is steeped in history. Besides showcasing duels in Victorian times, it was used as a hunting ground by notorious British monarch Henry VIII. There’s also the small matter of the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace, a few minutes away.

Camden Town

A stomping ground for London’s avant-garde music folk, Camden Town is a sprawling mass of body-piercings, leather and bleached Mohicans. Its watering holes, and namely The Hawley Arms, have long been the haunt of supermodel Kate Moss and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher. The vintage shops in Camden Market are home to biker jackets, flares and any of fashion history’s other forgotten garments while Cyberdog, which can be best described as a futuristic S&M shop, is a must-see.

La Fromagerie

Visiting a French-named cafe is hardly a way to crown an English holiday but this rustic cheese and wine shop is a stylish dining experience that personifies metropolitan London. Tucked away in London’s trendy Marylebone area, visitors are seated at earthy wooden tables before being given an impressive menu with offering taken from across Europe. The English Stinking Bishop is a soft cheese that lives up to its name and goes beautifully with the French wine, Chignin La Marechale.

Hoxton Hotel

Located in up-and-coming Shoreditch, this stylish offering is widely considered the best-valued hotel in London at 4,250 rupees a night. Owned by Pret A Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham, it follows a no-nonsense mantra. The exposed brickwork and sizeable fireplace residing in the lobby are indicative of the hotel’s subtle and unpretentious decoration. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re staying at a budget hotel, there are plenty of luxuries nestled around, including a free daily Pret A Manger breakfast.

DNA- India an Anime Nation?


With talented script writers and keener audiences, Indian animated films can be more than just a flash in the pan.

In 2011 Indian cinemas will play host to a number of animated films, including Rango, Rio, and Japanese manga offering Sinchan, Bungle in the Jungle. And, for another year, Indian animated films will remain conspicuous for their absence. In the context of India’s highly-developed capabilities for animation production, this appears strange. After all, Indian animation played its hand in global film franchises such as Star Wars and The Mummy. However the domestic market is proving a tough nut to crack.

According to Ram Mirchandani, CCO of entertainment giant Eros, compared to the West the Indian audience is not yet suited to animated films. “The impression of animated films is that it’s for just for children and this alienates a huge movie-going audience.”

Director of 2008 animated offering, Roadside Romeo, Jugal Hansraj believes animation has a niche audience. “You can’t compare animation to a Bollywood film, it appeals to pockets of people.” This is illustrated in the box office performance of Roadside Romeo. At the time, according to Hansraj the film had grossed the most of any animation film in India, but this equated to a modest $55, 000.

Rajnish Arora, CCO of animation studio Source Animation, proposed Indian films are hampered by their plots. “We don’t have experienced animation writers and there is a lack of strong scripts” he suggested. Mirchandani supplemented this, “Animation films need interesting and smart scripts that involves audiences across age boundaries so children can bring their parents too.”

Director Anil Goyal is hoping his film Crackers will dispel perceptions of animation being just for children. Crackers, India’s first 3D stereoscopic film, is based on the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and features an animated take on Katrina Kaif. “Katrina is a well-loved actress and she looks equally pretty in animation” Goyal added.

Arora credited India’s current strength in production of animation. “We have fantastic production abilities to execute someone else’s ideas” he declared. India’s foreign appeal is also entwined in economics. The 12-16 hour work day of Indian animators equates to a faster turnaround for jobs and the rupee’s favorable exchange rate makes jobs comparatively cheaper. Goyal estimated 60% of Indian animators work for foreign companies.

In an interview with IANS, Ranvir Shorey, who has lent his voice in upcoming animation flick Rio, bemoaned the lack of budgets. “We need somebody with the right script and the producers who have faith to mount that kind of production because we definitely have the talent in India. We need more entrepreneurship from the production sector.”


Caped crusaders, masked defenders; since the surprise success of X Men(2000), Hollywood has been heaving with superheroes as comic books are scoured and franchises such as Batman are revived for an assault on the silver screen. With the impending release of Bollywood’s Ra. One, superheroes appear to be catching on in B-town. But is the industry suited to the lofty production costs and sensationalism of superhero flicks? Is villain-bashing in spandex an Indian audience’s cup of tea?

The rapturous reception Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman received on a recent visit to Mumbai hinted that Hollywood superheroes had infiltrated the Indian market. It is clear the younger generation of Indians is taken with the visual feasts of superhero films and the protagonists’ portrayal as upholders of moral justice makes them positive role models. Actor Shah Rukh’s decision to act in Ra. one supports this. “I am only doing this for my kids, Aryan and Suhana”, he said.

SRK, though, was quick to distance Indian superheroes from their Hollywood counterparts, “the stories will always be set in an Indian context and the audiences have grown up with different concepts and stories”. Both SRK and Hrithik Roshan, star of superhero flick Krrish, reported there was no Hollywood influence in their superhero characters. Roshan said, “Indians have grown up with tales of superheroes like Hanuman so, while Krrish may have all the powers of a typical western superhero, he was not inspired by any Hollywood superhero”.

Apparently little influence, but the box office success of Hollywood superheroes, equating to both The Dark Knight and Spiderman 3 residing amongst the world’s top twenty highest-grossing films of all time, has certainly been emulated in Bollywood. Bollywood offering Krrish grossed Rs 150 crore, making it the second highest Bollywood earner in 2006, while in 2010 Robot(Enthiran) smashed the Bollywood grossing record, making Rs 375 crore worldwide. It is clearly a lucrative genre, but Robot’s reported production cost of over Rs 150 crores represents a potentially risky investment.

Ra. one’s use of Hollywood specialists to train their VFX team indicates that Bollywood is not yet at the global forefront of VFX. Merzin Tavaria, Chief Creative Director of India’s largest VFX company Prime Focus, conceded that Bollywood required the specialist help of Hollywood VFX teams but remained ambitious for the future. “We have some catching up to do in terms of experience, but with our base in the key global markets, we are in a position to leverage that and share the knowledge to train our people.” Roshan reflects this optimism. “We have the best minds in the business so there’s no reason why we won’t be able to achieve the standards Hollywood has set for us.”

Star of up-coming superhero film, Doga, Kunal Kapoor joked that playing a superhero, “I will finally know what it feels like to wear my underwear over my pants.” This perception of superheroes is born out of the comic books many characters are taken from. With a relatively low comic book readership in India, however, inspiration appears taken from elsewhere. Recently, it was reported that actor Akshay Kumar would be playing a superhero inspired by Indian deity Hanuman while the title Ra.One is taken from the mythological antagonist ‘Rawana’ who appears in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.

Bollywood superheroes are swooping in, and judging by reports, they will be loyal to India.

DNA- No Substitute for Experience


New Zealand’s thrilling victory over South Africa has proved that performing well in the latter stages of this World Cup is not all down to the cricketers’ skill. After all, the Proteas boasted the tournament’s third highest runs scorer in AB de Villiers (353) and spinners Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are amongst the top five wicket-takers. In the heat and fierceness out in the middle at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket stadium reputations counted for nothing as South Africa collapsed under the pressure and extended their World Cup jinx to five losses in five consecutive knockout games.

Being in New Zealand’s position before the game-changing dismissal of Jacques Kallis, many teams would have resigned themselves to counting the overs until defeat. At the time, chasing 114 runs of 155 balls with eight wickets in hand is a small ask for a team boasting de Villiers and Kallis in their ranks. The upbeat body language of the Kiwis however, as they themselves around the field, suggested that they were playing until the Fat Lady sang.

This attitude was aided by the presence of World Cup veterans Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori. The latter, New Zealand’s highest wicket taker in World Cup history with 35 wickets, produced a match-winning spell of 4/33 and took a magnificent catch to dismiss Kallis. Captain Vettori showed his commitment by playing despite a knee injury and his proactive captaincy in rotating the bowlers and tinkering with the field displayed that he was always on the hunt for a wicket. Their presence and self-belief helped to electrify the younger players and Martin Guptill especially looked like a man possessed as he dived and leapt at cover before running out de Villiers.

In contrast South Africa’s spectacular batting collapse of losing eight wickets for 64 runs were the symptoms of a team unguided and unfamiliar with victory. Batting in his efficient manner, Kallis (47) looked set to bring the Proteas home but gave his wicket away playing a needlessly aggressive hook. The rate required was below five and needed Kallis only to maneuver singles and not go for the big shot. The tremors of this dismissal reverberated down the batting line-up and J.P. Duminy was clearly spooked when he played all around a straight delivery from Brendan McCullum. Playing in his first World Cup, Faf du Plessis was arguably the most affected when he ran out de Villiers (35) chasing a panicky and non-existent run.

The success of New Zealand has demonstrated that knock-out stages require the team’s more experienced members to stand up and lead from the front. Some players might get caught up in the moment and try to smack the ball out of the park or bowl a magical ball when all that is required is calmness and consistency. Tendulkar and Dhoni can take a leaf out of the Kiwi’s book in Mohali on Wednesday. In the high-strung affair not only will the eyes of the nation be on these players, but also the eyes of their teammates.