Read more Celebrity Interviews in our featured section Chai Pe Charcha.
Suhaas Ahuja, the actor who is being appreciated for his portrayal of the character Salim Khan in the Star Plus show ‘P.O.W. Bandi Yuddh Ke’ and has also been a part of the movies Talaash with Aamir Khan and Katti Batti with Imran Khan, is a passionate theatre artist who is now working towards establishing himself as a singer-songwriter.
On the difference between theatre versus mainstream TV and cinema, Suhaas says, “There definitely is a lot of difference, but the mediums complement each other too. In terms of characterisation, you get the most time in theatre thanks to a lengthy rehearsal schedule. If you don’t give yourself that much time for film or TV, you have to sometimes think fast and work quickly.”
“There are some filmmakers who believe in rehearsals. Like in Katti Batti, director Nikkhil Advani had our casting director Mukesh Chhabra workshop all the scenes between Imran and myself, since I was playing his buddy and thus that camaraderie was built upon way before we got to set. On the other hand, Reema Kagti, the director of Talaash, felt that over-rehearsing could ruin spontaneity. So it depends, a lot on the director, but in the end, the actor has to figure out what strategy works best for that project.”
About working in theatre, he shares, “In theatre, you express outwardly, as theatre is actually all about connecting with the audience. Every show is unique. The first mission in the theatre is that you should be loud enough so that you are audible even to the last person. Only then can you even begin to consider acting for them.”
On the idea of being a director’s actor, Suhaas expressed, “Look, on the set, the director’s pretty much your boss. At the end, you’ve been hired to fulfill his/her vision. However, as a professional, my job is also to provide the director with some interpretations that perhaps even he/she hasn’t anticipated. And when that influences the director’s vision, that’s when the relationship becomes a collaboration. And that’s a win-win situation for everyone. It even helps in furthering the actor’s career, because his/her work can be showcased better in the director’s film.”
“My parents belong to the theatre. That’s how they met. While I was growing up, they continued doing it. My siblings and I grew up in that environment, and we all have done a fair amount of acting. Later I studied filmmaking in college. I am into music as well. I play the guitar, write my own songs and was a full-time composer for some time too. One thing led to another, and that’s how I find myself here,” shared Suhaas about how he got into this industry.
“I am attracted to tragically flawed characters but also love doing comedy. I did a role in a TV series called ‘Bahu Humari Rajni_Kant’, which was a very comic character. It was an exaggerated character, but the challenge of playing such an exaggerated character is to make him real, and I love that process,” he said on trying out various roles.
About his favourite characters and co-stars, Suhaas shares, “My most favourite character I’ve ever played was from this Indo-French theatre collaboration called ‘Gates To India Song’, in which I acted opposite Nandita Das. Another one would be Thomas from a play called ‘Bull’ directed by Jim Sarbh. Also, Salim Khan’s character from POW is now a favourite, although I often found him hard to believe. I often used to ask Nikkhil, wouldn’t Salim get angry here, just once and briefly? But Nikkhil would always say, not Salim. He was like the most patient and calm character ever.”
“My favourite co-star so far would be Satyadeep Misra. We have done some fantastic scenes together in POW. Due to the nature of their relationship, there were a lot of scenes wherein while I was expressing something to him, I was hiding something too. Getting to essay such contradictions in a character is just gold for an actor, and Satyadeep is an incredibly generous co-actor who’s very comfortable with his own intensity. Jim Sarbh is another one of my favourites. We have done a lot of plays together; he is incredibly talented and highly intelligent. I enjoyed working with Imran Khan too. He is like, the nicest guy you will ever meet. Super chill to work with. As an ensemble cast, the entire cast of POW is just outstanding. They’re all excellent actors, perfectly cast for their characters. I think POW is a genuine achievement in casting,” he added.
Lastly, while signing off, on upcoming projects, Suhaas says, “Right now I have some time, so I’m spending it on my singer-songwriter material. Once my acting career picked up after Talaash, I sort of became preoccupied with it and have been looking for the opportunity to make some progress with my own music.”
We thank Suhaas for his time and wish him good luck for his musical endeavours.
The Sound Space: Healing With Music Therapy
“Bringing music into the lives of every human being – from child to adult has always been a fundamental objective for us at ‘The Sound Space.’ We genuinely believe that music is a catalyst in making life wholesome and complete. The Sound Space is our labour of love, our way to make whatever change we can – doing what we know best – music,“ says Kamakshi Khurana, Co-founder of the organization.
In conversation with Falguni Chaudhary for News Aur Chai, the sister duo – Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana share the story behind their musical venture.
Having grown up in a musical family, they have always been deeply influenced by the power of music in one’s life and have always wanted to make it available to as many people as possible. Coming from a psychology background, the founders were able to understand the potential of music as a psychotherapeutic tool or in providing relief to psychosomatic symptoms in patients.
So, what is music therapy? It is a process in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.
“As we gradually paved our careers in music by teaching Indian music in a deconstructed form to children and adults, it became apparent that the benefits of the centuries-old Indian music needed to be made more amenable and accessible to people in a fun, contemporary way. This experience led to creating specialized sessions for children and adults from all walks of life with varying objectives – focusing energy, de-stressing, healing, recovering, post-trauma rehabilitation, and even simply learning music, achieving inner balance, and so on. This went on to become the inspiration behind The Sound Space,” says Vishala.
She further adds, “Our approach pulls on various aspects of Sound and Music Therapy – our curriculum is inspired by the Raga-Chikitsa which is based around the idea that every raga has an effect on the body and mind. We also use the study of the chakras or energy centres and their specific bija mantras or seed sounds. We also believe strongly in the healing powers of the human voice.”
The organization has been working with children from underprivileged backgrounds for more than five years. The Founders often collaborate with other organizations in the education niche to build a stronger community; St. Jude Childcare Centre, Akanksha Foundation, Jai Vakeel Foundation, Seva Sadan Society, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Homes to name a few.
For almost a decade, The Sound Space has worked with approximately 10,000 students, teachers, and care-givers from various schools, care- centres, and NGOs across India.
The organization has a profit-making corporate wing wherein they collaborate with a gamut of schools, institutions, and corporations to train employees or engage in therapy sessions. This forms the basis of the pro-bono work done with the underserved community.
A personalized curriculum is designed for all participants based on the outcome they want to achieve post the workshops. These workshops can be both online or offline, Kamakshi shares a few during our conversation, “Kahaniyaan: a story-telling and music workshop, On A Lighter Note: A music where we delved into raga based film songs, and a parent-toddler workshop for some bonding time. We are currently working along with our students on a fundraiser – ‘Bulandiyan’ to help rain funds for our projects in the various NGOs.”
When talking about future plans, the Sister-duo share their kaleidoscopic vision, saying “The ultimate aim of The Sound Space‘s endeavours is that every individual in this country has access to music as part of their lives in a meaningful and structured way. This means getting into the veins of the education system – government and non-government organizations. Bulandiyaan is a starting point – a window into the work that we have already been doing. It is our aspiration that it will open up the possibilities of larger numbers and a wider reach.”
Millennial’s Mission To Tackle Misinformation On Social Media
Sonali Jain, a fourth-year law student from Chennai, whose Instagram video on the Thoothukudi custodial deaths case went viral on Instagram, talks about her mission to try and address important present-day issues and ‘flattening the misinformation curve’ with facts. Edited Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Anupama. A from News Aur Chai Media follows.
“All information on social media, no matter how well-intended, is sometimes misinformation,” said Sonali Jain, while talking about the video she had posted on the Jayaraj and Bennick’s case that had taken social media by storm a few weeks back. “I saw a lot of posts that said that suspension of the policemen was the only punishment given to them. The court had already taken cognizance of the case, and the investigation had already started. The suspension was just a disciplinary action until the FIR was filed. Half the people on social media didn’t know that this was the case.”
The video was widely circulated on Instagram and now has over 6,50,000 views and 500 comments.
When asked about her reaction to the response, she said, “I didn’t realize when I made it that it would go viral. When it did, I understood that people do want information. So, I decided that this is the best way for someone like me, who has access to good education and can take so much from the community, to give back and share the information and privilege I have.”
The fourth-year law student from School of Excellence in Law, Chennai had posted the video on June 27, after reading about the case in newspapers and seeing several social media posts on the issue.
“I came across the hashtag #wedemandjustice in several posts,” She continued. “The court has already taken up the case. What we’re asking for has already been given. We don’t want the government to start considering the protests and emails as spam. Instead, we should be trying to make more tangible demands like the CCTV camera footage or the police report.”
Sonali then discussed the power of social media and the kind of impact it can have, by giving the example of the Jallikattu Protests that happened across Tamil Nadu in 2017, against the ban on the traditional sport.
“The impact of social media was so huge in the Jallikattu protests that it led to a policy change,” said Sonali. “When social media has such a huge bearing, spreading credible information is crucial. That is the reason I made the video.”
Sonali’s initiative focuses on trying to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news prevalent on all social media platforms. However, are such initiatives enough? What about legal enforcement or actions from the government?
When posed with the question, Sonali answered, “It’s not possible to regulate every post on social media. You can’t do it because it’s borderline censorship. What people are allowed to say online, is governed by the Information Technology Act (IT Act, 2000) in India. There are other provisions as well, such as defamation, which limit what you can post.”
While the IT Act does regulate what people can or cannot post on social media, the young law student agreed that it was outdated and needed to be updated with current developments.
“Over the years, there has been a lot of development that has not been accounted for in the act. It is a developing field of law, and I feel like it requires much change.”
Sonali recently released her second video on the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) draft, another issue that has been trending on social media, with a title similar to the last one, which reads ‘Flattening the Misinformation Curve’. She also mentioned in the video that she would be posting a video that consists of a more detailed discussion about the draft and its repercussions with two experts in the field.
“It’s a discussion on a Zoom call, so I’m in the process of editing it. I might post it on YouTube this time because it is quite lengthy.”
When asked if she was planning to create a regular IGTV series of such videos, the millennial affirmed the possibility and indicated that there is more to come.
“That’s the plan.” She said, confirming a regular IGTV series. “Maybe a video a week. I’m also planning to meet with experts from various industries and discuss the legal rights pertaining to them- Like maybe people from the fashion industry or media industry and create a sort of ‘Know Your Rights’ Series.”
Her next video on the recent amendments to the Disability Act is in the works.
“I’m planning on making a video about the amendments in The Disability Act as well.” She said, talking about her next post. “I feel like, during the pandemic, when people are more worried about their safety, monumental changes should not be made by the government. It is our constitutional right to be a part of the public process, a part of the discussions that affect us.”
To take a look at Sonali’s latest IGTV video on the EIA draft and to keep a lookout for the posts yet to come, check out her Instagram page here.
Plogman of India launches Pledge Campaign: “Plastic Upvaas”
The pandemic has impacted lives in ways that we are yet to decipher. With losing lives and crashing Economies, the single-use surgical masks and gloves used are causing more harm than good.
While on one hand, we appreciate the positive impact on the environment, with nature reviving itself as humans stay locked in. On the other hand, we are creating a massive mess of plastic masks by using them and discarding them in millions on an everyday basis.
These disposable gloves and masks dig a hole in your pocket, with the cost of being continuously replaced. In addition to that, they also impact life as they end up being part of landfills or being dumped into the ocean along with other single-use plastic products.
Looking onto this dreadful journey of the single-use surgical masks and gloves, Plogman of India – Ripu Daman Bevli, has launched a pledge titled – #PlasticUpvaas. (https://www.change.org/PlasticUpvaas)
Ripu Daman Bevli, began his plastic upvaas with shunning single-use plastic from his life altogether, in addition to that, he organized multiple cleanup campaigns. “When you make a man pick up someone else’s litter, he will think twice before littering again,” He says. He has also organized a cleanup campaign across 50 cities in the country in 50 days.
He has now taken another step in pursuit of his upvaas by filing a petition in change.org to bring the change during this pandemic maintaining all the norms terms and conditions of the pandemic & it’s associated lockdown.
“Single-use has taken over our lives and ruined the planet. There is no place where it can be disposed of properly and ends up in landfills or the water bodies and oceans. Seeping into the groundwater from landfills, or destroying the marine ecosystem, it enters the food chain and comes back to impact our health. The need to fight is extremely urgent! And it’s not just single-use plastic, but single-use anything which creates waste is harmful for us and the environment. But since it’s omnipresent, the question arises, how can we overcome this problem?” reads the petition.
“#PlasticUpvaas is a people’s movement to start with shunning just one single-use item from our lives. It could be single-use plastic bottles, polythene bags, straws, tissue papers, or anything similar. In today’s world, I am saying shun surgical masks and switch to reusable cloth masks,” Says Bevli.
By 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fishes. Also, by 2050, the manufacturing of plastic will add up to 15% of all greenhouse gases. These were the statistics in a Pre-Corona World. The post-Corona world has seen a considerable spurt in plastic and single-use consumption.
The problems are too many, but should we continue to blame the authorities and not do something on our end? No matter how small it is, every drop of make the mighty ocean. #PlasticUpvaas is going to be your contribution to Mother Earth and a Litter Free world. Imagine if 7.5 billion (1.35 billion people in India) people take this up!
So, what’s your #PlasticUpvaas?”
It is difficult to stop using plastic all at once, but, consider the upvaas or fasting we all do regularly – we just fast and make ourselves so rigid with devotion or something else that little things like food don’t break our determination.
The plastic upvaas is similar to that; all you need is a strong determination. Start this will power building by shunning the plastic masks and using the cloth mask, which is washable and reusable.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed up using Gamcha (basic cotton towel) during his virtual presence during the pandemic. We all should follow the example set by him because this time, it is not about supporting a party; it is about the environment and nature.
PlasticUpvaas is not asking you to stop living or enjoying life; it asks you to increase the use of degradable materials and avoid using plastics as much as possible. If you look around yourselves, there are hundreds of things you are using that are made of plastic; think what a significant change you will bring by shunning at least 50% of them.
Take a moment to introspect the implication of shunning plastic in your life on the environment. Little steps matter. Sign the petition and take up #plasticupvaas
You can sign the petition here https://www.change.org/PlasticUpvaas and can tag us at Instagram (@newsaurchai – https://instagram.com/newsaurchai) and Ripu Daman Bevli (@Ripudamanbevli –https://instagram.com/plogmanofindia) via telling what plastic upvaas you have taken after signing the petition.
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